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Epidemic of suicide by hanging in Lithuania: does socio-demographic status matter?

Epidemic of suicide by hanging in Lithuania: does socio-demographic status matter?

Public Health 120(8): 769-775

To analyse suicide by hanging, compared with other methods, by demographic and selected social factors in Lithuania, and to evaluate changes during 1993-1997, and 1998-2002. Data on committed suicides were compiled from the Lithuanian Department of Statistics. Suicides were identified by the International Classification of Diseases (ICD): codes in ICD-9 E950-E959 and codes in ICD-10 X60-X84. These were categorized into seven groups by method of suicide. Particular attention was paid to suicide and self-inflicted injury by hanging, strangulation and suffocation (ICD-9: E953; ICD-10: X70). These data were analysed by gender, age, place of residence, education, and marital status. A total of 8324 suicides (6864 men and 1460 women) were committed during 1993-1997, and 7823 suicides (6455 men and 1368 women) during 1998-2002. Of all registered suicides in Lithuania during 1993-2002, hanging was the most common method. Over the period under investigation, hanging, in proportion to all other methods used to commit suicide, increased statistically significantly from 89.4% among men and 77.3% among women between 1993 and 1997 to 91.7% among men and 82.6% among women between 1998 and 2002. The most noticeable rise occurred among girls aged 10-19 years. The next most common methods among men were firearms and poisoning; among women, poisoning and jumping from high places were common methods. Hanging predominated in men, older people, rural residents and people with low levels of education. A logistic regression analysis showed that gender (odds ratio [OR]=2.4; 95% confidence interval [CI] 2.2-2.7), place of residence (OR=2.0; 95% CI 1.8-2.2) and education (OR=1.2; 95% CI 1.1-1.3), independently of other factors, had the strongest influence on the choice of hanging as the method of suicide between 1993 and 2002. Age had only a minor effect, and marital status had no significant effect on choosing hanging to commit suicide. Hanging is the most common method of suicide in Lithuania. The popularity of this highly lethal method may be one of the underlying causes for the high rate of committed suicides. Universal approaches to suicide prevention deserve serious consideration, especially challenging the social acceptability of hanging among men, older people, rural residents, and low educated groups of the population in Lithuania.

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Accession: 012786058

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PMID: 16828493

DOI: 10.1016/j.puhe.2006.04.009

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