Prior injury and motor vehicle crash as risk factors for youth suicide

Epidemiology. 1993 Mar;4(2):115-9. doi: 10.1097/00001648-199303000-00006.


We conducted a case-control study to determine whether adolescents and young adults who have been in a motor vehicle crash or hospitalized for unintentional and intentional injury are at greater risk for suicide. Cases were 700 Washington State residents age 16-35 with a driver's license who died of suicide during 1987-1989. Controls were 3,494 licensed drivers matched by age, sex, and zip code. Using two different databases, we were able to determine the past incidence of in-state injury hospitalizations and motor vehicle crashes for all subjects. Overall, the incidence of suicide was tenfold higher among those with a past hospitalization for injury. Many of these admissions were for suicide attempts [odds ratio (OR) = 56, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 27-120], but the risk of suicide was also higher among those hospitalized for unintentional injuries (OR = 5.0, 95% CI = 2.2-11.5) and assaults (OR = 4.5, 95% CI = 1.1-18). The relative risk for suicide was 2.7 (95% CI = 2.0-3.5) for those with prior injury as a driver in a motor vehicle crash and 2.9 (95% CI = 2.2-3.8) for those with involvement in a single vehicle crash. Many unintentional injury hospitalizations and a proportion of motor vehicle crashes in younger adults may represent unrecognized suicide attempts.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic / statistics & numerical data*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Automobile Driving
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Odds Ratio
  • Risk Factors
  • Suicide / statistics & numerical data*
  • Washington / epidemiology
  • Wounds and Injuries / epidemiology*