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Brief Reports   |    
Characteristics of U.S. Suicide Decedents in 2005–2010 Who Had Received Mental Health Treatment
Thomas Niederkrotenthaler, M.D., Ph.D.; Joseph E. Logan, Ph.D.; Debra L. Karch, Ph.D.; Alex Crosby, M.D., M.P.H.
Psychiatric Services 2014; doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.201300124
View Author and Article Information

At the time of the study, Dr. Niederkrotenthaler was with the Scientific Education and Professional Development Program Office, Epidemic Intelligence Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Atlanta, Georgia. He was also with CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Division of Violence Prevention, Atlanta, where Dr. Logan and Dr. Crosby are affiliated and where Dr. Karch was also affiliated. Dr. Karch is now with the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, Atlanta. Dr. Niederkrotenthaler is now with the Center for Public Health, Department of General Practice and Family Medicine, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria (e-mail: thomas.niederkrotenthaler@meduniwien.ac.at).

Copyright © 2014 by the American Psychiatric Association

Abstract

Objective  To inform suicide prevention efforts in mental health treatment, the study assessed associations between recent mental health treatment, personal characteristics, and circumstances of suicide among suicide decedents.

Methods  Data from 18 states reporting to the National Violent Death Reporting System between 2005 and 2010 (N=57,877 suicides) were used to compare circumstances among adult decedents receiving any or no type of mental health treatment within two months before death.

Results  Of suicide decedents, 28.5% received treatment before suicide. Several variables were associated with higher odds of receiving treatment, including death by poisoning with commonly prescribed substances (adjusted odds ratio [AOR]=3.04, 95% confidence interval [CI]=2.84–3.26), a history of suicide attempts (AOR=2.77, CI=2.64–2.90), depressed mood (AOR=1.69, CI=1.62–1.76), and nonalcoholic substance abuse or dependence (AOR=1.13, CI=1.07–1.19).

Conclusions  For nearly a third of all suicide decedents, better mental health care might have prevented death. Efforts to reduce access to lethal doses of prescription medications seem warranted to prevent overdosing with commonly prescribed substances.

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Table 1Odds of mental health treatment of suicide decedents over age 18 in the National Violent Death Reporting System, 2005–2010a
Table Footer Note

a Reported by 18 states. Treatment seeking was assessed for the two months before death.

Table Footer Note

b Adjusted for age group, sex, race-ethnicity, and history of suicide attempt if not otherwise noted

Table Footer Note

c Values do not add up to 100% because of missing values.

Table Footer Note

d Sex adjusted for age group, race-ethnicity, and history of suicide attempt. Age group adjusted for sex, race-ethnicity, and history of suicide attempt. Race-ethnicity adjusted for sex, age group, and history of suicide attempt. History of suicide attempt adjusted for age group, sex, and race-ethnicity.

Table Footer Note

e Analyzed only for individuals with known circumstances (N=50,024 of 57,877; 86.4%). Total persons treated with known circumstances, N=16,470; total not treated, N=33,554. The reference category is an answer of no to the respective item.

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