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Have the Samaritans lowered the suicide rate? A controlled study

  • C. Jennings (a1), B. M. Barraclough (a1) and J. R. Moss (a1)

Suicide rates in towns with a Samaritan branch were compared with rates in matched control towns without a branch. Four methods of choosing controls are described, all of which have advantages over those used by Bagley (1968). No statistically significant differences between Samaritan and control towns were found. The scientific case for the effectiveness of the Samaritans in reducing the suicide rate is therefore seriously weakened.

Corresponding author
1Address for correspondence: Mr C.Jennings, MRC Clinical Psychiatry Unit, Graylingwell Hospital, Chichester, West Sussex, PO19 4PQ.
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J. R. Ashford & P. A. Lawrence (1976). Aspects of the epidemiology of suicide in England and Wales. International Journal of Epidemiology 5, 133144.

C. Bagley (1968). The evaluation of a suicide prevention scheme by an ecological method. Social Science and Medicine 2, 114.

B. M. Barraclough (1972). A medical approach to suicide prevention. Social Science and Medicine 6, 661671.

T. P. Bridge , S. G. Potkin , W. W. K. Zung & B. J. Soldo (1977). Suicide prevention centers: ecological study of effectiveness. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease 164, 1824.

R. Fox (1975). The suicide drop – why? Royal Society of Health Journal 95, 914.

D. Lester (1974). Effect of suicide prevention centers on suicide rates in the United States. Health Services Reports 89, 3739.

P. Sainsbury (1975). Suicide and attempted suicide. In Psychiatrie der Gegenwart (ed. K. P. Kisker , J.-E. Meyer , C. Müller and E. Strömgren ), pp. 557606. Springer-Verlag: Berlin.

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Psychological Medicine
  • ISSN: 0033-2917
  • EISSN: 1469-8978
  • URL: /core/journals/psychological-medicine
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