Methods of suicide used by children and adolescents

Hepp, Urs ; Stulz, Niklaus ; Unger-Köppel, Jürg ; Ajdacic-Gross, Vladeta

In: European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 2012, vol. 21, no. 2, p. 67-73

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    Although relatively rare, suicide is a leading cause of death in children and adolescents in the Western world. This study examined whether children and adolescents are drawn to other methods of suicide than adults. Swiss suicides from 1998 to 2007 were examined. The main methods of suicide were analysed with respect to age and gender. Of the 12,226 suicides which took place in this 10-year period, 333 were committed by children and adolescents (226 males, 107 females). The most prevalent methods of suicide in children and adolescents 0-19years were hanging, jumping from heights and railway-suicides (both genders), intoxication (females) and firearms (males). Compared to adults, railway-suicides were over-represented in young males and females (both P<.001). Jumping from heights was over-represented in young males (P<.001). Thus, availability has an important effect on methods of suicide chosen by children and adolescents. Restricting access to most favoured methods of suicide might be an important strategy in suicide prevention