Prevalence of and Risk Factors for Suicide Attempts Versus Suicide Gestures: Analysis of the National Comorbidity Survey

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Abstract

Definitions and classification schemes for suicide attempts vary widely among studies, introducing conceptual, methodological, and clinical problems. We tested the importance of the intent to die criterion by comparing self-injurers with intent to die, suicide attempters, and those who self-injured not to die but to communicate with others, suicide gesturers, using data from the National Comorbidity Survey (n = 5,877). Suicide attempters (prevalence = 2.7%) differed from suicide gesturers (prevalence = 1.9%) and were characterized by male gender, fewer years of education, residence in the southern and western United States; psychiatric diagnoses including depressive, impulsive, and aggressive symptoms; comorbidity; and history of multiple physical and sexual assaults. It is possible and useful to distinguish between self-injurers on the basis of intent to die.

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