Hospital-treated suicide attempts among Finnish fire setters: a follow-up study

Crim Behav Ment Health. 2016 Dec;26(5):395-402. doi: 10.1002/cbm.1972. Epub 2015 Aug 17.


Background: High rates of attempted and completed suicide have been reported among offenders, but there has been little attention in this respect to fire setters specifically. Aim Our aim was to investigate hospital-treated suicide attempts among male fire setters.

Methods: For each of a consecutive series of 441 pre-trial fire setters, four controls matched for age, gender and place of birth were randomly selected from the Central Population Register. Data on hospitalisation and causes of death over a 39-year period were obtained from the Finnish national registers.

Results: The prevalence of suicide attempts was significantly higher among fire setters than among controls. Approximately every fifth fire setter had made at least one suicide attempt which had required hospital treatment. The most common method chosen was intentional self-poisoning or exposure to noxious substances. More than 1 in 10 fire setters with at least one hospitalisation for suicide-related behaviour eventually completed suicide.

Conclusions and implications for practice: More attention should be paid to detecting and managing suicidal behaviours among fire setters as they are a high-risk group and accurate identification of their needs in this respect may not only be life-saving but also reduce recidivism. Copyright © 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Finland / epidemiology
  • Firesetting Behavior / psychology*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data*
  • Hospitals
  • Humans
  • Intention
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Suicidal Ideation
  • Suicide / psychology*
  • Suicide / statistics & numerical data
  • Suicide, Attempted / psychology
  • Suicide, Attempted / statistics & numerical data*
  • Young Adult