Who Seeks Treatment Where? Suicidal Behaviors and Health Care: Evidence From a Community Survey

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The reason why some persons seek help following a suicide attempt while others do not is still insufficiently clarified. Using data from the World Health Organization/SUicide PREvention-Multisite Intervention Study on Suicidal Behavior community survey, this study tried to shed more light on this problem by investigating the type and number of treatments sought by suicide attempters in 2 major cities of Queensland, Australia. Compared with those who did not attend services (n = 142), help-seekers (n = 257) had significantly greater odds of overdosing with medications and communicating suicidal thoughts. They also had greater odds of reporting a history of psychological problems, previous attempts, and help-seeking behavior. Those who sought multiple services were more likely to be female and suffer also from physical illness. Non help-seekers were more frequently males, with no history of having previously sought help or communicated intent. They also appeared at greater risk of using more lethal methods (hanging) and less likely to express mental health concerns at the time of the attempt. These findings underline the need to further understand the relationship between lethality, suicide intent, and help-seeking behavior. Improving motivation to seek treatment after a suicide attempt could substantially impact on suicide prevention success efforts.

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