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Concept: Suicide methods

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BACKGROUND: Suicide rate trends for Poland, one of the most populous countries in Europe, are not well documented. Moreover, the quality of the official Polish suicide statistics is unknown and requires in-depth investigation. METHODS: Population and mortality data disaggregated by sex, age, manner, and cause were obtained from the Polish Central Statistics Office for the period 1970-2009. Suicides and deaths categorized as ‘undetermined injury intent,’ ‘unknown causes,’ and ‘unintentional poisonings’ were analyzed to estimate the reliability and sensitivity of suicide certification in Poland over three periods covered by ICD-8, ICD-9 and ICD-10, respectively. Time trends were assessed by the Spearman test for trend. RESULTS: The official suicide rate increased by 51.3% in Poland between 1970 and 2009. There was an increasing excess suicide rate for males, culminating in a male-to-female ratio of 7:1. The dominant method, hanging, comprised 90% of all suicides by 2009. Factoring in deaths of undetermined intent only, estimated sensitivity of suicide certification was 77% overall, but lower for females than males. Not increasing linearly with age, the suicide rate peaked at ages 40-54 years. CONCLUSION: The suicide rate is increasing in Poland, which calls for a national prevention initiative. Hangings are the predominant suicide method based on official registration. However, suicide among females appears grossly underestimated given their lower estimated sensitivity of suicide certification, greater use of “soft” suicide methods, and the very high 7:1 male-to-female rate ratio. Changes in the ICD classification system resulted in a temporary suicide data blackout in 1980-1982, and significant modifications of the death categories of senility and unknown causes, after 1997, suggest the need for data quality surveillance.

Concepts: Death, Demography, Suicide, The Complete Manual of Suicide, Hanging, Suicide methods

44

While assisted suicide (AS) is strictly restricted in many countries, it is not clearly regulated by law in Switzerland. This imbalance leads to an influx of people-‘suicide tourists’-coming to Switzerland, mainly to the Canton of Zurich, for the sole purpose of committing suicide. Political debate regarding ‘suicide tourism’ is taking place in many countries. Swiss medicolegal experts are confronted with these cases almost daily, which prompted our scientific investigation of the phenomenon. The present study has three aims: (1) to determine selected details about AS in the study group (age, gender and country of residence of the suicide tourists, the organisation involved, the ingested substance leading to death and any diseases that were the main reason for AS); (2) to find out the countries from which suicide tourists come and to review existing laws in the top three in order to test the hypothesis that suicide tourism leads to the amendment of existing regulations in foreign countries; and (3) to compare our results with those of earlier studies in Zurich. We did a retrospective data analysis of the Zurich Institute of Legal Medicine database on AS of non-Swiss residents in the last 5 years (2008-2012), and internet research for current legislation and political debate in the three foreign countries most concerned. We analysed 611 cases from 31 countries all over the world. Non-terminal conditions such as neurological and rheumatic diseases are increasing among suicide tourists. The unique phenomenon of suicide tourism in Switzerland may indeed result in the amendment or supplementary guidelines to existing regulations in foreign countries.

Concepts: Law, Switzerland, Suicide, Tourism, Suicide methods, Cantons of Switzerland, Zürich, Canton of Zürich

37

The authors compared the efficacy of standard-of-care treatment plus intranasal esketamine or placebo for rapid reduction of symptoms of major depression, including suicidality, among individuals at imminent suicide risk.

Concepts: Medical terms, Placebo, Schizophrenia, Bipolar disorder, Major depressive disorder, Self-harm, Suicide, Suicide methods

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OBJECTIVE: The objective of this pilot study was to gather preliminary evidence on suicidal ideation in family carers of people with dementia. METHODS: An online, cross-sectional survey was conducted with 120 family carers, the majority of whom were located in Australia and USA. The survey included measures of suicidality, self-efficacy, physical health, depression, hopelessness, anxiety, optimism, caregiver burden, coping strategies and social support. RESULTS: Twenty-six percent of carers had contemplated suicide more than once in the previous year. Only half of these had ever told someone they might commit suicide and almost 30% said they were likely to attempt suicide in the future. Carers who had contemplated suicide had poorer mental health, lower self-efficacy for community support service use and greater use of dysfunctional coping strategies than those who had not. In a logistic regression, only depression predicted the presence of suicidal thoughts. CONCLUSIONS: A significant number of people might contemplate suicide while caring for a family member with dementia. Although more research is required to confirm this finding, there are clear implications for policy and clinical practice in terms of identifying and supporting carers who are already contemplating suicide. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Concepts: Mental disorder, Schizophrenia, Bipolar disorder, Major depressive disorder, Psychiatry, Suicide, Parasuicide, Suicide methods

29

Despite great advances in forensic sciences in the last decades, our knowledge of the pathophysiology of ligature strangulation is still largely based on old writings from the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. The study of filmed hangings by the Working Group on Human Asphyxia has contributed to a better understanding of the agonal responses to strangulation by hanging, and judo-related studies have given some insight into the pathophysiology of manual strangulation, but the pathophysiology of ligature strangulation has remained largely unexplored so far. Three nonlethal strangulations filmed by an autoerotic practitioner are here presented. In these 3 ligature strangulations, the 35-year-old man is sitting on a chair. A pair of pajama pants is rolled once around his neck, with the extremities of the pants falling down on each side of his chest. The man is pulling the extremities of the pants with both hands to apply compression on his neck. After losing consciousness, he ceases to pull on the ligature, and the pants slowly loosen around the neck. A few seconds later, he regains consciousness and gets up from the chair. In the 3 nonlethal ligature strangulations presented in this study, the loss of consciousness occurred in 11 seconds. The loss of consciousness was closely followed by the onset of convulsions (7-11 seconds). These results are compared with the early agonal responses documented in filmed hangings and judo studies.

Concepts: 20th century, The Loss, Hanging, The Onset, Suicide methods, Strangling, Execution methods, 20th Century Fox

28

Numerous death cases due to suffocation in a toxic or oxygen deficient gas atmosphere have been described in the literature, but unfortunately especially cases involving inert gases like helium are often presented without detailed toxicological findings. Observations on two suicides are reported, one by helium and the other by argon inhalation. During autopsies gas samples from the lungs were collected directly into headspace vials by a procedure ensuring minimal loss and dilution. Qualitative gas analyses were performed using headspace gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (HS-GC/MS). For carrier gas the commonly used helium was replaced by hydrogen. Qualitative positive results were obtained in the argon case, but the case involving helium revealed negative findings. The use of HS-GC/MS enables in principle to detect inert gases like argon or helium. However, a number of factors may later influence the results as, e.g. a longer period of time between death and sampling or pre-analytical artefacts during sampling of such highly volatile substances. In absence of analytical data supporting helium exposure, the causes of death in the actual cases were found to be asphyxia and in both cases the manner was suicide.

Concepts: Oxygen, Carbon dioxide, Nitrogen, Atmosphere, Noble gas, Suicide methods, Argon, Asphyxiant gas

25

When a body is found in suspended position, not only suicidal hanging has to be considered but also an accident or homicide. These alternatives and the criteria to be applied for their differentiation were already extensively discussed in the old medico-legal literature. Nevertheless, it is still a challenge for detectives and forensic experts to prove a homicidal assault when a suspended body is found. In the presented case, the findings collected at the scene and during autopsy seemed to be consistent with the assumption of suicide at first and the case has only been elucidated by supplementary inquiries and a secondary evaluation of the photos taken at the scene and during the autopsy. The victim, a 47-year-old woman, had been manually strangled in her flat. Subsequently, the perpetrator took her up to the attic and tried to hang her in order to simulate suicide.

Concepts: Critical thinking, Death, English-language films, Suicide, Homicide, Hanging, Suicide methods, Nelson Erazo

10

Suicide rates in Germany consistently decreased from 1991 to 2006, but this trend was reversed in 2007. Underlying this reversal were large increases in suicides due to gassing in females and in being overrun in males. During a similar time period (2005-2013), Asian and some Western countries have also observed abrupt increases in suicides due to certain gasses, and the availability of “how-to” information on the Internet about these painless methods of suicide is thought to play a role in their increased use. This study used data from the Federal Statistics Office of Germany to examine current trends in overall suicide mortality in Germany (2007-2015) as well by age, gender, and suicide methods. Also assessed was whether suicides via newly emergent methods are associated with the frequency of corresponding Internet searches using data from Google Trends. Joinpoint regression analyses indicated significant increases in the overall suicide rate (Average Annual Percentage Change (AAPC) = 2.37%) for females, but not males. The largest annual increases were observed in gassing self-intoxication suicides (AAPC = 13.93%), the majority of which involved carbon monoxide. The increase in gassing suicides was larger in females (500%), compared to males (164%). The frequency of suicides by gassing was significantly associated with Internet searches for “carbon monoxide poisoning” for both male and female subgroups, independent of age group. This study provides the updated suicide surveillance data that are necessary for suicide prevention activities. Results are congruent with the recent abrupt rises in carbon monoxide suicides in other countries.

Concepts: Male, Female, Gender, Carbon monoxide, Poison, Suicide, The Complete Manual of Suicide, Suicide methods

10

Abstract Social networking sites such as Facebook attract millions of users by offering highly interactive social communications. Recently, a counter movement of users has formed, deciding to leave social networks by quitting their accounts (i.e., virtual identity suicide). To investigate whether Facebook quitters (n=310) differ from Facebook users (n=321), we examined privacy concerns, Internet addiction scores, and personality. We found Facebook quitters to be significantly more cautious about their privacy, having higher Internet addiction scores, and being more conscientious than Facebook users. The main self-stated reason for committing virtual identity suicide was privacy concerns (48 percent). Although the adequacy of privacy in online communication has been questioned, privacy is still an important issue in online social communications.

Concepts: Sociology, Communication, Suicide, Social network service, MySpace, Suicide methods, Instant messaging, Facebook

9

To ascertain demographic and clinical characteristics of maternal deaths from self-harm (accidental overdose or suicide) to identify opportunities for prevention.

Concepts: Death, Maternal death, Clinical death, Suicide, Drug overdose, Suicide methods