Suicide and serious suicide attempts in youth: a multiple-group comparison study

Am J Psychiatry. 2003 Jun;160(6):1093-9. doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.160.6.1093.


Objective: This study compared risk factors for suicide and medically serious nonfatal suicide attempts among youth under 25 years of age.

Method: Three groups were examined: individuals who committed suicide (N=60), individuals who made serious suicide attempts (N=125), and nonsuicidal community comparison subjects (N=151). Suicidal and nonsuicidal subjects were compared in terms of sociodemographic, childhood, family, psychosocial, and psychiatric factors.

Results: Suicides were characterized by male gender, lack of educational qualifications, mood disorder, history of mental health care, and stressful life events. Except for gender, similar risk factors were associated with serious suicide attempts. Suicides and serious suicide attempts were discriminated by gender and mood disorder. Gender differences between suicides and nonfatal suicide attempts were explained by gender differences in methods.

Conclusions: The same risk factors (mood disorder, history of psychiatric care, educational disadvantage, stressful circumstances) play a similar role in suicide and serious suicide attempts. Suicide and suicide attempts are discriminated by mood disorder and gender differences in methods.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology*
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Comorbidity
  • Educational Status
  • Family Relations
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology
  • Mood Disorders / diagnosis
  • Mood Disorders / epidemiology
  • New Zealand / epidemiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Social Class
  • Suicide / psychology
  • Suicide / statistics & numerical data*
  • Suicide, Attempted / psychology
  • Suicide, Attempted / statistics & numerical data*