Who attempts suicide by burning? An analysis of age patterns of mortality by self-inflicted burning in the United States

Brett D. Thombs, Melissa G. Bresnick, Gina Magyar-Russell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Objective: The objective of this study was to compare age patterns of completed suicide by burning in the USA to age patterns in suicide by all methods as an indicator of whether suicide by burning may be a phenomenon related to altered mental status (psychosis and/or intoxication). Methods: Analysis of three national databases: Fatal injury data from the U.S. National Vital Statistics System, estimates of nonfatal injury data from the U.S. National Electronic Injury Surveillance System All-Injury Program and mortality data from the American Burn Association National Burn Repository. Results: Risk of suicide by burning is highest between 30 and 59 years (odds by decile of age compared to 18-29 years, 1.47 to 1.82), whereas risk by all methods is highest for ages 70 and older (odds, 1.26 to 1.55). Of patients admitted to burn centers with large self-inflicted burns (total body surface area ≥20%), 58.6% live. Among those with specified psychiatric or substance abuse/dependence disorders, 69.2% had either a disorder that included psychosis and/or a substance abuse/dependence disorder. Conclusions: Age patterns of suicide by burning suggest that psychotic and/or substance-related disorders may be present in a substantial proportion of victims. Further research is needed, however, to document the psychiatric characteristics of these patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)244-250
Number of pages7
JournalGeneral Hospital Psychiatry
Volume29
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2007

Keywords

  • Psychosis
  • Substance-related disorder
  • Suicide by burning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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