The geography of self-injury: spatial patterns in attempted and completed suicide

Soc Sci Med. 2006 Jun;62(12):3186-96. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2005.11.038. Epub 2006 Jan 18.


This study uses hospital discharge data, death certificates and medical examiner data for New Jersey for 1999-2001 to investigate whether fatal and non-fatal self-injury exhibit similar geographic patterns. Findings show that the demographic characteristics of individuals committing fatal and non-fatal self-injury are quite different. Furthermore, attempted and completed suicides have a somewhat different geographical pattern. Municipality-level determinants of suicide and non-fatal self-injury were estimated in two separate models. While measures of isolation such as low population density and high proportions of households with only one member were predictive of completed suicides, non-fatal self-injury was related to unemployment and median age. Both types of self-injury were more common in municipalities which lost population between 1990 and 2000, and where divorce rates were high. Population-based suicide prevention efforts should be aided by the knowledge that although there are some similarities in the spatial pattern of completed and attempted suicides, there are some important differences in significant determinants.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Asphyxia / epidemiology
  • Asphyxia / mortality
  • Demography
  • Female
  • Geography
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • New Jersey / epidemiology
  • Poisoning / epidemiology
  • Poisoning / mortality
  • Regression Analysis
  • Rural Population / statistics & numerical data*
  • Self-Injurious Behavior / epidemiology
  • Sex Distribution
  • Suicide / statistics & numerical data*
  • Suicide, Attempted / statistics & numerical data
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Urban Population / statistics & numerical data*
  • Wounds, Gunshot / epidemiology
  • Wounds, Gunshot / mortality