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Journal Article


van Aalst JA, Shotts SD, Vitsky JL, Bass SM, Miller RS, Meador KG, Morris JA. J. Trauma 1992; 33(3): 457-464.


Department of Surgery, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN 37212.


(Copyright © 1992, Lippincott Williams and Wilkins)






STUDY POPULATION: Of 9,046 consecutive trauma admissions, all suicide attempts (n = 156) were identified: 38 patients (24%) died in hospital; 118 (76%) were discharged and received long-term follow-up (mean = 2.8 years). Factors assessed included suicidal ideation and planning, reason for attempt; number of attempts, methods, dates of prior and subsequent attempts; psychiatric diagnoses, substance abuse history, treatment and medication compliance, hospitalizations, incidence of family depression and suicide; education level, job history, and living conditions. RESULTS: 104 (88%) patients were interviewed and 14 (12%) were lost to follow-up. Seventy-seven of the patients (74%) used guns in their attempt; their mean ISS was 14.2. Seven (6.7%) made repeat suicide attempts (all unsuccessful). Late mortality was 7% (one related to index suicide, five to chronic illness, one to motor vehicle crash). Most patients (96%) had psychiatric diagnoses at discharge, 77 of 93 (83%) had diagnosed depression. Sixty-six percent (69 of 104) had histories of alcohol abuse, 42% (42 of 101) histories of drug abuse. Thirty-five percent (34 of 96) were noncompliant with psychiatric follow-up and 70% (16 of 23) were noncompliant with alcohol abuse treatment. CONCLUSIONS: (1) Repeat attempts were rare (7%) after failed suicide attempts. (2) No late deaths resulted from repeat suicide attempts. (3) Risk factors associated with repeat attempts were younger age (p = 0.002), prior attempts (p = 0.02), family history of suicide (p = 0.03), schizophrenia (p = 0.005), and not living at home (p = 0.04). (4) Identifying patients with these risk factors, ensuring that they receive inpatient alcohol abuse treatment, along with sustained psychiatric treatment and help in maintaining home environments, may prevent repeat suicide attempts.


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