Cluster Hanging Suicides in the Young in South Australia

Authors

  • Amy E. Austin B.Hlth.Sci.,

    1. Discipline of Anatomy and Pathology, The University of Adelaide, Frome Rd, Adelaide, SA 5005, Australia.
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  • Corinna van den Heuvel Ph.D.,

    1. Discipline of Anatomy and Pathology, The University of Adelaide, Frome Rd, Adelaide, SA 5005, Australia.
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  • Roger W. Byard M.D.

    1. Discipline of Anatomy and Pathology, The University of Adelaide, Frome Rd, Adelaide, SA 5005, Australia.
    2. Forensic Science SA, 21 Divett Place, Adelaide, SA 5000, Australia.
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Additional information and reprint requests:
Professor Roger W. Byard, M.B.B.S., M.D.
Discipline of Anatomy and Pathology
Level 3 Medical School North Building
The University of Adelaide, Frome Road
Adelaide 5005, SA
Australia
E-mail: roger.byard@sa.gov.au

Abstract

Abstract:  Retrospective review of hanging suicides in individuals aged ≤17 years was undertaken at Forensic Science South Australia, Australia, over two 5-year periods: 1995–1999 and 2005–2009. Seven cases of hanging suicides were identified from 1995 to 1999, with a further 14 cases from 2005 to 2009, an increase of 100% (< 0.001). Hanging accounted for 33.3% of all suicides in this age group (7/21) from 1995 to 1999, compared with 93.3% of the total number of suicides (14/15) in the second 5-year period. In contrast, Australian national data from 1998 and 2008 showed a 30% decrease in hanging suicides in the young, from one case/100,000 population in 1998 to 0.7 in 2008. Cluster suicides occur in the young and are often initiated by direct communication. As it is possible that Internet-based social sites may facilitate this phenomenon, investigations should include an evaluation of the victim’s Internet access given the potential risk of similar actions by peers.

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