Suicide in the Aftermath of the L’Aquila (Italy) Earthquake

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Abstract

Background: Given the well-documented acute increase in psychopathology after disasters as well as the greater likelihood of suicide among persons with psychopathology, it may be expected that suicide rates also rise after such events. Aim: To investigate the suicide rate 1 year after the April 2009 earthquake that struck L’Aquila (Italy). Methods: Suicide rates were collected from administrative data sets of the Italian National Institute of Statistics for the years 2004 through 2009. Results: The number and rate of suicides during 2009 are the lowest since 2004 – and significantly lower than the two prequake years. Conclusions: The findings suggest that an investigation of resilience and posttraumatic personal growth might be useful in guiding public health efforts on suicidal prevention in the aftermath of disasters.

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