Premature mortality after suicide attempt in relation to living arrangements. A register-based study in Finland in 1988–2007

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Background: Several studies have shown that individuals with a history of suicide attempt form a high-risk mortality group. Completed suicide is the main cause of death among them, but excess mortality for other causes of death is much less studied. Furthermore, little is known whether living with others modifies the excess risk of mortality among suicide attempters. Methods: We evaluated an 11% sample from the population registration data of Finns aged 15 years and older in the period 1988–2007 with an 80% oversample of death records and a linkage with information on causes of hospitalisation. We estimate standardised mortality rates and Poisson regression models separately for the general population and those treated in hospital for suicide attempt. Results: Compared with the general population, all-cause mortality risk was ∼10-fold among women and well over 10-fold among men during the first 3 months following suicide attempt. The risk for suicide was even greater, but in addition to external causes of death, mortality from smoking- and alcohol-related diseases was elevated. Instead, the proportion of alcohol-associated suicides was smaller among the suicide attempters. Among suicide attempters, the association between living arrangements and mortality was much weaker than in the general population. Conclusion: Premature mortality is extremely high after suicide attempt, especially in the first year. Our results do not support the idea that the resources provided by living with others ameliorate the effects of suicide attempt on subsequent mortality. Suicide prevention should focus on designing adequate aftercare following the attempt, especially for those with alcohol problems.

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