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Background: Several reports show that suicide is the second and third leading cause of untimely death in young people below the age of 30. Little, however, is known about the profile and trend of suicide in this country due to lack of systematic studies and a lack of national statistics on suicide. This study seeks to examine the profile and pattern of suicide cases recorded within northern Ghana for the past decade.
Aim: This study aimed to report the prevalence of suicide as an independent cause of death; the choice of suicide method and the alleged reasons for suicide within the northern part of Ghana.
Setting: Retrospective review of coroners’ reports within the northern part of Ghana.
Method: In this descriptive study, 309 completed suicides as archived by the office of the coroner were examined. The coroners’ reports of 309 individuals, whose deaths received a suicide verdict or an open verdict in which the cause of death was likely to be suicide from 2008 to 2017, were examined. Student’s t-test was used to ascertain significant age differences between the genders involved.
Results: Amongst the 309 decedents examined, approximately, 61% were male, with ages ranging from 5 to 81 years. Hanging and poisoning were the most commonly used methods to complete suicide accounting for 124 (40.1%) and 102 (33.0%) deaths, respectively. Regarding the reasons for completed suicide, 78 (25.2%) were because of unknown reasons and 66 (21.4%) were because of social stigma. There was a notable decline in the prevalence of suicide from 2014 to 2017 compared with the years from 2010 to 2013.
Conclusion: Suicide was highest in the 30–39 year age group with hanging and poisoning being the most common method employed. Stigmatisation and psychosocial problems arising from chronic illness and economic hardship were significant triggers of suicide amongst the suicide decedents in the northern part of Ghana.