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Suicide by burning as an epidemic phenomenon: an analysis of 82 deaths and inquests in England and Wales in 1978–9

  • John R. Ashton (a1) and Stuart Donnan (a1)

An epidemic of suicide by burning in England and Wales occurred during the one-year period October 1978 to October 1979, following a widely publicized political suicide. For the 82 cases, death certificates were obtained and coroners' inquest reports sought. The victims were predominantly young single men or older married women; both groups had strong psychiatric histories; and there were no suicides which had political overtones, apart from the index case. Compared with suicides by this method in the past, a higher proportion of victims were born in the UK. It is proposed that a code of practice for the reporting of suicides by the media is required.

Corresponding author
1 Address for correspondence Dr John Ashton, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Keppel Street, London WCIE 7HT.
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Psychological Medicine
  • ISSN: 0033-2917
  • EISSN: 1469-8978
  • URL: /core/journals/psychological-medicine
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