Suicide by burning barbecue charcoal in England


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Abstract

BackgroundSuicide by carbon monoxide poisoning from burning barbecue charcoal has become a common method of suicide in several Asian countries over the last 15 years. The characteristics of people using this method in Western countries have received little attention.MethodWe reviewed the inquest reports of 12 English Coroners (11% of all Coroners) to identify charcoal-burning suicides. We compared socio-demographic and clinical characteristics of suicide by charcoal burning occurring between 2005 and 2007 with suicides using other methods in 2005.ResultsEleven charcoal-burning suicides were identified; people using this method were younger (mean age 33.4 versus 44.8 years, P = 0.02), and more likely to be unemployed (70.0 versus 30.1%, P = 0.01) and unmarried (100 versus 70%, P = 0.04) than those using other methods. Charcoal-burning suicides had higher levels of contact with psychiatric services (80.0 versus 59.1%) and previous self-harm (63.6 versus 53.0%) compared with suicides using other methods, but these differences did not reach conventional levels of statistical significance. Over one-third of people dying by charcoal burning obtained information on this method from the Internet.ConclusionsWorking with media, including Internet Service Providers, and close monitoring of changes in the incidence of suicide using this method might help prevent an epidemic of charcoal-burning suicides such as that seen in some Asian countries.

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