Contacts to the health care system prior to suicide: a comprehensive analysis using registers for general and psychiatric hospital admissions, contacts to general practitioners and practising specialists and drug prescriptions


Ulla Agerskov Andersen, Clinical Pharmacology, Institute of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Winsløwparken 19, 5000 Odense C, Denmark


Objective: The purpose of this study was to describe suicides' contacts with various parts of the health-care system.

Method: Data on 472 people who committed suicide in a Danish County (Funen) in the period of April 1 1991 to December 31 1995 were searched in the Danish Psychiatric Central Register, the National Patient Register, the National Health Insurance and Odense Pharmacoepidemiologic Database.

Results: In total, 97.5% of the suicides were recaptured in at least one of these registers. Forty-two per cent had been hospitalized in psychiatric departments. Within the last month before death, 66% consulted a general practitioner, 13% and 7%, respectively, were discharged from a psychiatric hospital and general hospital.

Conclusion: The registers used provided a comprehensive registry-based description of suicides' contacts with the health-care system. The most prominent features were the high prevalence of psychiatric morbidity and the high rate of contacts with GPs close to suicide.