Background: Whether differences exist between those who do leave a suicide note and those who do not has not yet been comprehensively answered. Leaving a suicide note is not a random phenomenon: A minority, varying between 3-42%, of all suicide victims leave a note.
Aims: To compare the group of suicide victims who leave notes with the ones who do not, using data from the Athens Department of Forensic Medicine, the largest in Greece.
Methods: We examined sex, age, nationality, religious beliefs, marital and residential status, history of prior psychiatric disorder and psychiatric attempt(s), suicide method, physical disease, recent hospitalization, and existence of suicide notes. We completed psychological autopsy questionnaires after phone interviews with relatives of the suicide victims of a 2-year period (November 2007-October 2009).
Results: Note writers, 26.1% of our sample, differed in the following: they died by hanging or shooting (p=.007), had no history of psychiatric illness (p<.001) or recent (i.e., within 12 months of the suicide) psychiatric hospitalization (p=.005).
Conclusions: Our study showed that there are indeed differences between suicide victims who leave a note and those who do not. We also suggest some explanations for these differences, which could represent a valuable starting point for future research on this topic.