Suicide in Illinois, 2005–2010: A reflection of patterns and risks by age groups and opportunities for targeted prevention

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Abstract

BACKGROUND

Suicide accounts for two thirds of all deaths from intentional or violence-related injury and is a leading cause of death in the United States. Patterns of suicide have been well described among high-risk groups, but few studies have compared the circumstances related to suicides across all age groups. We sought to understand the epidemiology of suicide cases in Illinois and to characterize the risks and patterns for suicide among different age groups.

METHODS

We used suicide data collected from the Illinois Violent Death Reporting System to assess demographics, method of suicide, circumstances, and mental health status among different age groups.

RESULTS

Between 2005 and 2010, 3,016 suicides were reported; 692 (23%) were female, and the median age (n = 3,013) was 45 years (range, 10–98 years). The most common method/weapon types were hanging/strangulation (33%), firearm (32%) and poisoning (21%). Hanging was more common (74%) among young people aged 10 to 19 years, while firearm use was more common among elderly persons age 65 years and older (55%). The percentage of victims within an age group experiencing a crisis within two weeks before committing suicide was highest among 10- to 14-year-olds, while the risk factor of having a family member or friend die in the past 5 years was highest among older victims.

CONCLUSION

The final analysis demonstrated age-related trends in suicide in Illinois, suggesting prevention programs should tailor services by age.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE

Epidemiologic study, level IV.

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