Profile of risk factors associated with suicide attempts: A study from Orissa, India

Indian J Psychiatry. 2010 Jan;52(1):48-56. doi: 10.4103/0019-5545.58895.


Context: Periodic systematic profiling of suicidal risk factors in developing countries is an established need.

Aims: It was intended to study the risk factors associated with suicide attempts in Orissa, one of the most economically compromised states of India.

Settings and design: Cross-sectional study in a general hospital.

Materials and methods: Consecutive 149 suicide attempters were evaluated for psychosocial, situational, and clinical risk factors using the Risk Rescue Rating scale, Suicide Prevention Center scale, Lethality of Suicide Rating scale, and Presumptive Stressful Life Event scale. They were compared with healthy and psychiatric controls who had never attempted suicide.

Statistical analysis: Chi-square for comparison of categorical variables, t-tests for comparison of means.

Results: The male-to-female ratio was closer to one in adults and around 1:3 in adolescents. Younger age, lower-middle economic group, rural background, unemployed, school educated were more represented in this study. Compared to the controls, significantly more number of attempters had a family history of psychiatric illness and suicide, childhood trauma, medical consultation within one month, had experienced stressful life events and had expressed suicidal ideas. In a considerable proportion of attempts, risk was high and rescuability least; 59.1% had more than 50% chance of death. Suicide potential was high in almost half the cases. More than 80% of all attempters had psychiatric disorder; however, only 31.5% had had treatment. Factors like middle age, family history of psychiatric disorders, past psychiatric history, current psychiatric illness, communication of suicidal ideas, the use of physical methods, and high potential attempts, differentiated repeaters significantly from the first-timers. Major physical illness, family and marital conflicts, financial problems, and failure in examinations were more frequent life events. Childhood trauma, noted in around 40% of the attempters, was considerably associated with adolescent suicide attempts.

Conclusions: Modifiable risk factors identified in this study have preventive implications.

Keywords: Attempted suicide; developing countries; risk factors.