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South African Journal of Psychiatry

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The profile analysis of attempted-suicide patients referred to Pelonomi Hospital for psychological evaluation and treatment from 1 May 2005 to 30 April 2006

EH du Toit, JM Kruger, SM Swiegers, M van der Merwe, FJW Calitz, L Philane, G Joubert

Abstract




Background. Suicide is an increasing phenomenon worldwide. A suicide occurs every 40 seconds, and there is 1 attempt every 1 to 3 seconds. By 2020, these figures
may have doubled. No accurate statistics regarding the occurrence of attempted suicide (or non-fatal suicidal behaviour) in South Africa exist, because there has been no systematic data collection.
Aim. The aim of the study was to determine the profile of patients who had attempted suicide and were referred to Pelonomi Hospital, Bloemfontein, for psychological
evaluation and treatment during the period 1 May 2005 to 30 April 2006.
Method. A descriptive, retrospective study was conducted. The study population comprised 258 attempted-suicide patients referred to Pelonomi Hospital for psychological
evaluation and treatment. A data form was compiled to transfer the relevant information from patients\' clinical files.
Results. The majority of patients were female (68.9%). The median age was 22 years. The most common method used in suicide attempts was drug overdose (66%) – mostly
antidepressants (19.7%)) and analgesics (8.2%). More females than males overdosed on drugs (p=0.0103). The main precipitating factors included problematic relationships (55.4%), financial problems (22.9%), Volume 14 No. 1 March 2008 - SAJP
psychiatric problems (22.1%), arguments (19.8%), abuse (emotional, sexual, physical – 18.2%), low self-esteem/ worthlessness/hopelessness/humiliation (16.7%), and
recent life changes (13.2%).
Conclusion. The aim of the study was to determine the profile of patients who had attempted suicide. Possible factors associated with suicide attempts in our sample
were identified and summarised in the form of a screening checklist. The value of the checklist is that it can be used as a screening method to identify possible suicide risk in
patients.

South African Journal of Psychiatry Vol. 14 (1) 2008: pp. 20-26



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