South African Family Practice

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Suicide cases investigated at the state mortuary in Bloemfontein, 2003–2007

K Stark, G Joubert, M Struwig, M Pretorius, N Van der Merwe, H Botha, J Kotzé, D Krynauw


Background: Up to 8 000 South Africans commit suicide annually. This study aimed to investigate the profile of suicide cases in Bloemfontein and the southern Free State province.
Methods: A cross-sectional descriptive study was performed. Suicides in the Bloemfontein and southern Free State areas (Xhariep and Motheo districts) investigated at the state mortuary in Bloemfontein in 2003 to 2007 were included. Data were collected retrospectively by using a specially designed data-capturing form.
Results: A total of 469 suicide cases were included in the study. The estimated suicide rate for this part of the Free State province was 10.9/100 000 of the population per year. The majority (82.1%) of the victims were men. In total, 338 (72.1%) of the victims were black, 122 (26.0%) were white, five (1.1%) were coloured and three (0.6%) were Indian. The most common methods were hanging (262; 55.9%), shooting (99; 21.1%) and overdosing on pills (43; 9.2%). Most cases (57.8%) occurred in victims 21 to 40 years of age. Five (1.1%) victims were children younger than 11 years of age, while 12 (2.6%) were older than 65 years. More than half (267 cases; 56.9%) of the suicide victims were unemployed. The majority
(43.1%) of suicides occurred in January to April of each year, with the highest incidence (67 cases; 14.3%) in January. Conclusion: The rate of suicide and the profile of victims with regard to the variables investigated corresponded to findings reported from other studies. The information obtained could make a meaningful contribution to suicide-prevention

Keywords: suicide; profile; rate; prevention; Free State Province

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