Hanging, firearm, and non-domestic gas suicides among males: a comparative study

Authors

  • Diego De Leo,

  • Russell Evans,

  • Kerryn Neulinger


Abstract

Objective: To identify characteristics that could distinguish males who completed suicide by hanging from males who completed suicide by firearms and non-domestic gas, and to suggest suicide prevention strategies targeted at hanging.

Method: Using the psychological autopsy design, males who used hanging, firearms and non-domestic gas were compared on a range of variables covering social, psychological, and health related factors and aspects of the suicide incident. The sample consisted of 950 males who suicided in Queensland, Australia, between 1994 and 1996.

Results: Compared with males who used firearms and non-domestic gas, males who used hanging were significantly younger, less likely to have left a suicide note, and more likely to have been diagnosed with a psychotic disorder. Compared with males who used firearms, males who used hanging were significantly more likely to have made prior suicide attempts and have had no physical illness. Compared with males who used non-domestic gas, males who used hanging were significantly more likely to have lived with others, have had prior legal trouble, and have suicided at their residence.

Conclusions: The results are discussed in terms of the availability and socio-cultural acceptability of methods. The authors suggest a possible relationship between impulsive traits and method choice. This proposition requires further investigation using alternative methodologies. Some suicide prevention measures targeting hanging suicides are discussed in light of the results.

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