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Demographic profile of patients and risk factors associated with suicidal behaviour in a South African district hospital


Background: Suicidal behaviour comprises self-destructive thoughts coupled with attempts at suicide, which negatively impacts the patient, family, friends, and their community. There is a paucity of data on factors influencing suicidal thoughts and behaviour in South Africa. The aim of this study was to evaluate demographic profile and risk factors associated with suicidal behaviour.

Methods: In this retrospective descriptive and observational study, 282 medical records of patients with suicidal behaviour were studied. The risk factors and age at occurrence were tabulated. Descriptive analyses were undertaken to understand how they were distributed across key socio-demographic groups.

Results: Suicidal behaviour was particularly prominent amongst the female population. The suicidal ideation, plan and non-fatal suicide were reported by 48.6%, 29.1% and 36.5%, of patients respectively. The prevalence for suicidal ideation was significantly higher in females (54.5% vs. 31.5%; p < 0.0007) but not for suicidal plan (28.7% vs. 30.1%; p < 0.81) and suicidal attempt (37.3% vs. 34.2%; p = 0.63) as compared with males. Suicidal behaviour was positively associated with depression (r = 0.56, p < 0.001) and negatively associated with age (r = −0.16, p = 0.01). Multivariate logistic regression analysis revealed that suicidal behaviour was influenced by female gender, poor social support, depression and a family history of non-fatal suicide.

Conclusion: This research has confirmed an association between female sex and factors associated with a higher risk of suicidal behaviour.

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2078-6204
print ISSN: 2078-6190