Medical conditions and nearly lethal suicide attempts

Suicide Life Threat Behav. 2001;32(1 Suppl):60-7. doi: 10.1521/suli.


Physical illness has been studied as a risk factor for suicidal behavior, but little is known about this relationship among younger persons. We conducted a population-based, case-control study in Houston, Texas, from November 1992 through September 1995. The final sample consisted of 153 case- and 513 control-subjects aged 13 to 34 years. Case patients were identified at hospital emergency departments and met criteria for a nearly lethal suicide attempt. Control subjects were recruited via a random-digit-dial telephone survey. Case patients were more likely than controls to report having any serious medical conditions (crude OR = 3.23; 95% CI = 2.12-4.91). After controlling for age, race/ethnicity, alcoholism, depression, and hopelessness, the adjusted odds ratio for men was 4.76 (95% CI = 1.87-12.17), whereas the adjusted odds ratio for women was 1.60 (95% CI-0.62-4.17), suggesting that young men with medical conditions are at increased risk for nearly lethal suicide attempts. Increased efforts to identify and appropriately refer these patients are needed.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / psychology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Catchment Area, Health
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Female
  • Health Status Indicators*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Odds Ratio
  • Sex Factors
  • Suicide, Attempted / classification
  • Suicide, Attempted / prevention & control
  • Suicide, Attempted / psychology*
  • Texas