MONDAY, Dec. 2, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Overall, 8.5 percent of suicidal acts are fatal, with higher rates for males and older adults, according to a study published online Dec. 3 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Andrew Conner, from Quinnipiac University in North Haven, Connecticut, and colleagues conducted a cross-sectional study involving suicide deaths (309,377 records) and nonfatal suicide attempts requiring treatment in an emergency department (1,791,638 records) or hospitalization (1,556,871 records) in the United States from 2007 to 2014 among individuals aged 5 years or older. Data were used to estimate the overall and method-specific suicide case-fatality rate (CFR).

The researchers found that 8.5 percent of the suicidal acts were fatal (14.7 versus 3.3 percent for males versus females, respectively; 3.4 versus 35.4 percent for those aged 15 to 24 years versus ≥65 years). Drug poisoning accounted for 59.4 and 13.5 percent of acts and deaths, respectively; in contrast, firearms and hanging accounted for 8.8 and 75.3 percent of acts and deaths, respectively. The most lethal method was firearms (89.6 percent of suicidal acts with a firearm resulted in death), followed by drowning and hanging (56.4 and 52.7 percent, respectively). For males and older persons, method-specific CFRs were higher. Across demographic groups, there was variation in the distribution of methods.

“Our findings underscore the potential benefit of suicide prevention approaches that not only aim to reduce underlying suicidal behavior but also seek to reduce access to firearms,” the authors write.

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