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Suicide in young people

Study of 174 cases, aged under 25 years, based on coroners and medical records

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  03 January 2018

Keith Hawtdn*
University of Oxford, Department of Psychiatry, Warneford Hospital, Oxford
Kelly Houston
University of Oxford, Department of Psychiatry, Warneford Hospital, Oxford
Rosie Shepperd
Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Abingdon Mental Health Centre, Abingdon, Oxfordshire
Professor Keith Hawton, University of Oxford, Department of Psychiatry, Warneford Hospital, Oxford OX3 7JX. e-mail:



Suicide rates in youngmales in the UK have risen markedly in recent years.


To investigate the characteristics of a series of consecutive suicides in under-25-year-olds.


We studied coroners' inquest notes, general practitioners' records and psychiatric case notes of 174 individuals (148 males and 26 females) whose deaths received a verdict of suicide or an open or accidental verdict (excluding traffic accidents) where the circumstances strongly suggested suicide.


More individuals were of lower social class and unemployed than in the local population. Hanging and carbon monoxide poisoning were the most frequent methods of suicide, and co-proxamol was the drug most often used in overdoses. Previous self-harm had occurred in 44.8%, nearly half of these having carried out multiple episodes and 80% having self-harmed within the previous year. Little support was found for an earlier finding of increasing frequency of general practitioner visits shortly before death. Only 22.4% of individuals were in the care of psychiatric services.


Diverse strategies are required to prevent suicide in the very young.

Copyright © 1999 The Royal College of Psychiatrists 

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