The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1752-4458-8-22) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
None of the authors have any financial interest in the study, or any other conflict of interest.
JPH designed the study, supervised the data collection, and assisted with writing the article. SP wrote the paper and carried out the statistical analysis. AL and MHA acquired the data and assisted with writing the article. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
The lethality of the suicide method employed is a strong risk factor for the completion of suicide. We examined whether annual changes in the pattern of suicide methods is related to annual changes in suicide rates in South Korea, the United States (US), and Finland.
We analyzed annual data from 2000–2011 for South Korea and Finland, and 2000–2010 for the US in order to examine trends in the rates and methods of suicide. Data on suicide methods were obtained from the World Health Organization (WHO) mortality database.
Along with an annual rapid increase in suicide rates, the incidence of hanging increased steadily while suicide by self-poisoning steadily decreased in South Korea. In the US, along with an annual increase in suicide rates, the proportion of suicides committed by hanging increased while those committed with the use of firearms steadily decreased. In Finland, annual changes in the suicide rate and suicide method were not statistically significant during the study period.
Our present findings suggest that the increased use of specific lethal methods for suicide, namely hanging, is reflected in the increased suicide rates in the Korean and the US populations. The most effective approach for reducing overall suicide rates may be the implementation of population-based initiatives that reduce both the accessibility (e.g., access to firearms) and the social acceptability (e.g., effective and responsible regulations for reporting suicide) of lethal methods of suicide.
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- Associations between changes in the pattern of suicide methods and rates in Korea, the US, and Finland
Myung Hee Ahn
Jin Pyo Hong
- BioMed Central
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