Temporal Trends in Rainwater Tank Suicides in Rijeka, Croatia—A 30-year Study

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Abstract

Although drowning in rainwater tanks is a generally rare phenomenon, this method for suicide has been observed in parts of Croatia. Review of autopsy records at the University of Rijeka, Croatia, was undertaken from 1987 to 2016 to examine this phenomenon. Of 469 drowning deaths, there were 35 suicides in rainwater tanks (7.5%). Overall drowning deaths showed no temporal trends. In contrast, suicidal drownings in rain water tanks showed a marked decline over the years, with 15 cases in 1987–1991, seven in 1992–1996, six in 1997–2001, six in 2002–2006, one in 2007–2011, and none in 2012–2016. Thus, suicidal drowning cases as a percentage of overall drownings dropped from 18% to zero (p<0.001). This study reports a very unusual method of suicide that may have occurred because of the ready availability of large water reservoirs in homes. The recent fall in numbers may relate to less reliance on domestic reservoirs of water.

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