An analysis of child suicide from three centers (2008-2017)

Forensic Sci Med Pathol. 2022 Jul 25. doi: 10.1007/s12024-022-00505-1. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Although the overall suicide rate worldwide has changed minimally over the past 100 years, different trends have been observed over time in the USA, Australia, and New Zealand (NZ). However, few studies have focused on suicides in children (< 18 years), making evaluation of possible trends difficult. The last 20 years has also seen an increase in childhood obesity, eating disorders, and body image issues for children in many developed nations; however, few studies have shown whether a significant proportion of child suicides have an abnormal BMI. The current study evaluates child suicides (from 2008 to 2017) in South Australia (Australia), compared with the jurisdictions of Auckland (NZ) and Hennepin County (USA). Demographic data (age, sex, ethnicity), body mass index (BMI), the number of cases of youth suicide, and the method of suicide from these three regions were collected and analyzed. Across the 10-year period, the jurisdiction of Auckland had a downward trend, while Hennepin County and South Australia had increasing numbers of cases. The most common method of child suicide in all centers was hanging, occurring in > 80% of cases in South Australia and Auckland and 56% in Hennepin County. Hennepin County had a greater proportion of suicides using firearms (28%), compared to 1.9% in Auckland and 5.1% in South Australia. Unusual means of suicide were used less frequently by youth than previously.

Keywords: Australia; Child; Gunshot; Hanging; New Zealand; United States; Youth suicide.