'Hidden' suicides amongst deaths certified as undetermined intent, accident by pesticide poisoning and accident by suffocation in Taiwan

Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2010 Feb;45(2):143-52. doi: 10.1007/s00127-009-0049-x. Epub 2009 Apr 11.


Objective: To identify cause-of-death categories in which suicides might be misclassified in Taiwan.

Methods: We plotted secular trends (1971-2007) in sex- and method-specific rates of deaths classified as suicide, undetermined intent and accident for the Taiwanese population aged 15+ and compared the sex, age and marital status profiles of deaths in these three categories by method of death.

Results: The demographic profiles of registered suicides generally resembled those for deaths of undetermined intent and accidents by pesticide poisoning/suffocation but differed from those for accidents from non-pesticide poisoning/drowning/falling/poisoning by non-domestic gas. For the period 1990-2007, suicide rates based on suicides alone (14.8 per 100,000) would increase by 23, 7 and 1%, respectively, when including deaths of undetermined intent, accidental pesticide poisonings and accidental suffocations.

Conclusions: Suicide rates may be underestimated by more than 30% in Taiwan because some suicides are 'hidden' amongst deaths certified as due to other causes.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accidents / mortality
  • Accidents / trends
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Asphyxia / epidemiology
  • Asphyxia / mortality
  • Cause of Death / trends*
  • Death Certificates
  • Drowning / mortality
  • Female
  • Humans
  • International Classification of Diseases / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Marital Status
  • Middle Aged
  • Mortality / trends
  • Pesticides / poisoning
  • Poisoning / mortality
  • Self-Injurious Behavior / mortality
  • Suicide / classification*
  • Suicide / statistics & numerical data
  • Suicide / trends
  • Taiwan / epidemiology


  • Pesticides