Suicide tourism in Manhattan, New York City, 1990-2004

Charles Gross, Tinka Markham Piper, Angela Bucciarelli, Kenneth Tardiff, David Vlahov, Sandro Galea

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    Abstract

    Suicide accounts for over 30,000 deaths per year in the United States and is associated with psychiatric illness and substance abuse. Research suggests a strong relationship between method of suicide and the lethal means that are readily available in one's community of residence. However, certain individuals may also seek the opportunity for suicide outside their proximal environment, often in well-known places. Whereas prevention efforts have been aimed at certain repeatedly used sites for suicide (i.e., Golden Gate Bridge), little research has studied "suicide tourism," the phenomenon of out of town accompanied by suicide. We collected data on all suicide deaths in New York City (NYC) between 1990 and 2004 from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of NYC. We examined trends and correlates of out-of-town residents who committed suicide in NYC. Manhattan accounted for 274 of the 407 nonresident suicides in NYC, which represented over 10% of all suicides committed in Manhattan. The most common methods of suicide for the Manhattan nonresidents were long fall, hanging, overdose, drowning, and firearms; the most common locations included hotels and commercial buildings, followed by outside locations such as bridges, parks, and streets. Nonresident victims tended to be younger, more often white and Asian and less often black and Hispanic than their residential counterparts. An analysis of nonresident suicides in Manhattan revealed that it is a location where individuals travel and take their lives, often by similar means and in similar locations. A comparison with residential suicide implied that a different type of individual is at risk for nonresidential suicide, and further research and prevention efforts should be considered.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)755-765
    Number of pages11
    JournalJournal of Urban Health
    Volume84
    Issue number6
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Nov 2007

    Keywords

    • Access to lethal methods
    • Long falls
    • Manhattan
    • Media
    • New York
    • Psychopathology
    • Suicide
    • Suicide prevention
    • Suicide tourism

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Health(social science)
    • Urban Studies
    • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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