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BMJ 2005; 331 doi: (Published 27 October 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;331:987
  1. Alison Tonks, associate editor (

    Terror attacks in US linked to fewer admissions for self poisoning in Canada

    The impact of the terrorist attacks in America on 11 September 2001 spread around the world, but there are few data on the psychological aftermath outside the affected areas. Researchers now report that in the three days after the attack, hospital admissions for self poisoning fell by nearly two thirds in Ontario, Canada, several hundreds of kilometres from New York. Careful tracking of all admissions for self poisoning in September between 1988 and 2003 show a dramatic drop between 11 and 13 September 2001, which is distinct from more normal admission patterns during the three days before or three days after that period. Instead of the expected 36 admissions during the three days after the attacks, there were only 13, including far fewer men (8% in 2001 v 46% during the same period in other years combined).

    Credit: JAMA

    The authors think that the people of Ontario, and possibly elsewhere, were briefly distracted from their personal distress by the scale of the tragedy unfolding in a neighbouring country. The distraction may have been enough to prevent some of the most vulnerable from attempting self harm or suicide.

    JAMA 2005;294: 1900-1

    Physical abuse of boys is common among poor urban families in Philadelphia

    After randomly dialing over 13 000 households in Philadelphia county, researchers eventually found 298 men eligible for their study of physical abuse in childhood. Of those men, 197 (66%) completed the survey, which included validated questionnaires about childhood abuse and parental bonding. Half (51%, 100/197) the men surveyed had experienced at least one form of physical abuse during childhood, such as being hit with something, kicked, punched, or burnt. Three quarters of abuse in this study was committed by parents, more often the mother than the father. Unsurprisingly, abused boys were more likely than others to develop symptoms of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder as adults.

    The survey targeted an …

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