Background: The ability for suicides of drivers to be disguised as traffic accidents raises the possibility that suicidal behaviors of this nature are far more prevalent than previously thought, potentially impacting health, road safety, and insurance companies.
Method: Persons residing at the Gold Coast, Australia, identified as having a history of suicidal ideation and behaviors (n = 1,196), were sent a mail-out survey after their consent was obtained in initial telephone contact (CATI random digit-dialing). Among those responding, 412 had made suicide plans or arrangements and 228 suicide attempts.
Results: Of those who reported planning a suicide, 14.8% (19.1% of male planners and 11.8% of female planners) had conceived to have a motor vehicle "accident" (n = 61). Of all attempters, 8.3% (13.3% of male attempters) had previously attempted via motor vehicle collision (n = 19). All attempters reported having emotional or mental problems at the time of the event. Suicide planners were significantly more likely to be in full-time employment and have a partner and children compared with other planners.
Conclusion: The study gives a rare insight into driver suicide plans and attempts, via a large-scale community survey, to provide the best opportunity of collecting unbiased data on the driver suicide behavior. Results suggest the use of this method, particularly in attempts made by males, may be underreported leading to inaccuracy of statistics. The motives behind choosing this method are somewhat different to those behind other methods, including financial benefits and eliminating stigma in the aftermath of a suicide.