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The European Journal of Psychiatry

Print version ISSN 0213-6163


DEISENHAMMER, Eberhard A. et al. Stability in the choice of method during the period preceding a suicide attempt and in attempt repeaters. Eur. J. Psychiat. [online]. 2016, vol.30, n.3, pp.205-217. ISSN 0213-6163.

Background and Objectives: Understanding the mental processes preceding a suicidal act is important for the potential to intervene. This study investigates stability and possible changes of suicide methods considered during the time immediately preceding a suicide attempt. Methods: Patients who had attempted suicide were interviewed shortly thereafter with regard to whether there was a change in the conception of the method to be used during the period preceding the attempt. In addition, the course of methods applied in previous suicide attempts was assessed in attempt repeaters. Results: In total, 130 patients were included. In 63.1% one method only was envisaged during the entire suicidal crisis, in 26.9% the initial and the actual method differed. Stability rate was higher in those older than 40 years, if the duration of the suicidal crisis was ≤ 60 minutes and if a non-violent suicide method was initially intended. Of repeaters, 46.5% used the same method in all recorded attempts. Use of a non-violent method in the first suicide attempt predicted method stability in subsequent attempts. Conclusions: Focusing on one single suicide method during the time immediately preceding a suicide attempt is common. Reduced flexibility to rapidly switch mentally to another method may contribute to explain the effectiveness of limiting access to suicide means for suicide prevention.

Keywords : Attempted suicide; Suicidal process; Suicidal crisis; Suicide method.

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