All suicides and related prior attempts occurring in Northern Ireland over two years were analyzed, focusing on number and timing of attempts, method, and mental health diagnoses. Cases were derived from coroner's records, with 90% subsequently linked to associated general practice records. Of those included, 45% recorded at least one prior attempt (with 59% switching from less to more lethal methods between attempt and suicide). Compared with those recording one attempt, those with 2+ attempts were more likely to have used less lethal methods at the suicide (OR = 2.77: 95% CI = 1.06, 7.23); and those using less lethal methods at the attempts were more likely to persist with these into the suicide (OR = 3.21: 0.79, 13.07). Finally, those with preexisting mental problems were more likely to use less lethal methods in the suicide: severe mental illness (OR = 7.88: 1.58, 39.43); common mental problems (OR = 3.68: 0.83, 16.30); and alcohol/drugs related (OR = 2.02: 0.41, 9.95). This analysis uses readily available data to highlight the persisting use of less lethal methods by visible and vulnerable attempters who eventually complete their suicide. Further analysis of such conditions could allow more effective prevention strategies to be developed.
© 2014 The American Association of Suicidology.