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Effect of the 2004 tsunami on suicide rates in Sri Lanka

  • Asiri Rodrigo (a1), Andrew McQuillin (a2) and Jonathan Pimm (a2)
Abstract
Aims and Method

To investigate the effect of the 2004 tsunami on suicide rates in Sri Lanka. the number of suicides in the 2 years prior to and 1 year after the tsunami were considered for the study. Data from districts affected by the tsunami were compared with those from unaffected districts.

Results

No significant differences were found between the number of suicides before and following the disaster or between areas affected and unaffected by the tsunami.

Clinical Implications

Worldwise, the impact of disasters upon suicide rates is variable. It is possible that the tsunami failed to have any profound effect on societal forces affecting suicide rates in Sri Lanka.

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Copyright
This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
References
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BJPsych Bulletin
  • ISSN: 0955-6036
  • EISSN: 1472-1473
  • URL: /core/journals/bjpsych-bulletin
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Effect of the 2004 tsunami on suicide rates in Sri Lanka

  • Asiri Rodrigo (a1), Andrew McQuillin (a2) and Jonathan Pimm (a2)
Submit a response

eLetters

Limitations of the study and related results from other studies

krishna mohan Gangineni, Specialist Registar in Psychiatry
10 June 2009

We all are aware the devastation 2004 Tsunami has caused. Its tradionally believed that natural disasters would increase the psychological morbidity and suicide rates. It’s interesting to see from this study that there is no increase in suicide rates during the first year after the Tsunami compared to previous two years.The International Post-Tsunami Study Group examined psychological symptomsexperienced by people from the Peraliya area (a district in the southern province of Sri Lanka) 20 to 21 months after the tsunami and found that 21% had PTSD, 16% had severe depression, 30% had severe anxiety and 22% had somatic symptoms (or physical symptoms without an apparent medical explanation).These findings could indicate the higher suicide risk among this group of people. The authors have identified some of the limitations but collectingthe data from police records alone during one year post tsunami could leadto false results as numbers of cases reported during period is also questionable. There might be a possibility of different results if this isdone for longer period.

References:1)Hollifield, M., Hewage, C., Gunawardena, C.N., Kodituwakku, P., Bopagoda, K., & Weerarathnege, K. (2008). Symptoms and coping in Sri Lanka 20-21 months after the 2004 tsunami. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 192, 39-44.
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