Objective: Emergency departments are important, albeit underutilized, sites for suicide prevention. Preventive strategies and interventions could benefit from a greater understanding of factors influencing the course of suicide risk after emergency department contact due to attempted suicide. The aim of our study was 2-fold: to identify predictors of repeated suicide attempts and suicide and to investigate the timing of these events.
Methods: Data from Danish nationwide, longitudinal registers were used in this prospective, population-based study of all individuals first presenting to an emergency department after attempted suicide (index attempt) between January 1, 1996, and December 31, 2011 (N = 11,802). Cox regression analysis identified predictors, and Kaplan-Meier survival analysis modeled the time to repeated suicide attempts and suicide.
Results: Sixteen percent of the sample repeated suicide attempt, and 1.4% died by suicide. Repetition was less likely among men than women (adjusted hazard ratio [AHR] = 0.70; 95% CI, 0.63-0.79), whereas those most prone to repeated attempts were individuals with recent psychiatric treatment (AHR = 2.19; 95% CI, 1.97-2.43) and those with recent psychiatric treatment (AHR = 2.19; 95% CI, 1.97-2.43). Predictors of suicide included age over 35 years (AHR = 5.56; 95% CI, 2.89-10.69); hanging, strangling, or suffocation as the method of the index attempt (AHR = 2.55; 95% CI, 1.29-5.01); and receiving psychiatric hospitalization for the index attempt (AHR = 1.74; 95% CI, 1.22-2.49). The cumulative rates of repeated attempts and suicide deaths in the total sample were particularly high within the first week of the index attempt, reaching 3.6% and 0.1%, respectively.
Conclusions: Preventive efforts need to target the period close to discharge from emergency departments.
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