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06.03.2019 | Original Article

Suicidal fall from heights trauma: difficult management and poor results

European Journal of Trauma and Emergency Surgery
Dario Piazzalunga, Francesca Rubertà, Paola Fugazzola, Niccolò Allievi, Marco Ceresoli, Stefano Magnone, Michele Pisano, Federico Coccolini, Matteo Tomasoni, Giulia Montori, Luca Ansaloni



Self-inflicted injuries represent a consistent cause of trauma and falls from heights (FFH) represent a common dynamic used for suicidal attempts. The aim of the current report is to compare, among FFH patients, unintentional fallers and intentional jumpers in terms of demographical characteristics, clinical-pathological parameters and mortality, describing the population at risk for suicide by jumping and the particular patterns of injury of FFH patients.

Materials and methods

The present study is a retrospective analysis of prospectively collected data regarding FFH patients, extracted from the Trauma Registry of the Papa Giovanni XXIII Hospital in Bergamo, Italy. Demographic characteristics, clinical-pathological parameters, patterns of injury, outcomes including mortality rates of jumpers and fallers were analyzed and compared.


The FFH trauma group included 299 patients between April 2014 and July 2016: 259 of them (86.6%) were fallers and 40 (13.4%) were jumpers. At multivariate analysis both young age (p = 0.01) and female sex (p < 0.001) were statistical significant risk factors for suicidal attempt with FFH. Systolic blood pressure (SBP) at the arrival was lower and ISS was higher in the self-inflicted injury group (SBP 133.35 ± 23.46 in fallers vs 109.89 ± 29.93 in jumpers, p < 0.001; ISS in fallers 12.61 ± 10.65 vs 18.88 ± 11.80 in jumpers, p = 0.001). Jumpers reported higher AIS score than fallers for injuries to: face (p = 0.023), abdomen (p < 0.001) and extremities (p = 0.004). The global percentage of patients who required advanced or definitive airway control was significantly higher in the jumper group (35.0% vs 16.2%, p = 0.005). In total, 75% of jumpers and the 34% of fallers received surgical intervention (p < 0.001). A higher number of jumpers needed ICU admission, as compared to fallers (57.5% vs 23.6%, p < 0.001); jumpers showed longer total length of stay (26.00 ± 24.34 vs 14.89 ± 13.04, p = 0.007) and higher early mortality than fallers (7.5% vs 1.2%, p = 0.008).


In Northern Italy, the population at highest risk of suicide by jumping and requiring Trauma Team activation is greatly composed by middle-aged women. Furthermore, FFH is the most common suicidal method. Jumpers show tendency to “feet-first landing” and seem to have more severe injuries, worse outcome and a higher early mortality rate, as compared to fallers. The Trauma Registry can be a useful tool to describe clusters of patients at high risk for suicidal attempts and to plan preventive and clinical actions, with the aim of optimizing hospital care for FFH trauma patients.

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