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Distinguishing suicides of people reported missing from those not reported missing: retrospective Scottish cohort study

  • Penny Woolnough (a1), Emily Magar (a2) and Graham Gibb (a3)
Abstract
Background

Understanding what distinguishes the suicide of individuals reported missing (missing-suicides) from those of individuals not reported missing (other-suicides) may have preventative and/or operational utility and inform our knowledge of suicide.

Aims

To assess whether specific epidemiological, sociodemographic or circumstantial characteristics differ between individuals reported missing and those not reported missing who take their own life.

Method

Content analysis of Scottish Police Death Reports, detailing 160 suicides/undetermined deaths over a 3-year period in the North-East of Scotland.

Results

Those in the missing-suicide group were more likely to be older but did not differ from the other-suicide group on any other epidemiological or sociodemographic characteristics. Individuals in the other-suicide group were more likely to be found inadvertently by people known to them. The missing-suicide group took longer to find and were more likely to be located in natural outdoor locations by police/searchers or members of the public.

Conclusions

Individuals who die by suicide and who are reported as a missing person differ from those not reported as missing in terms of factors relating to location and how they are found but not epidemiological or sociodemographic characteristics.

Declaration of interest

None.

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Copyright
This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is unaltered and is properly cited. The written permission of Cambridge University Press must be obtained for commercial re-use or in order to create a derivative work.
Corresponding author
Correspondence: Penny Woolnough, Division of Psychology, Abertay University, Dundee DD1 1HG, UK. Email: p.woolnough@abertay.ac.uk
References
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Distinguishing suicides of people reported missing from those not reported missing: retrospective Scottish cohort study

  • Penny Woolnough (a1), Emily Magar (a2) and Graham Gibb (a3)
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