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Late-adolescent risk factors for suicide and self-harm in middle-aged men: explorative prospective population-based study

  • Jenny Nyberg (a1), Sara Gustavsson (a2), Maria A. I. Åberg (a3), H. Georg Kuhn (a4) and Margda Waern (a5)...

Abstract

Background

Recent reports show alarmingly high rates of suicide in middle-aged men, yet there are few long-term prospective studies that focus on suicidal behaviour in men in this age group.

Aims

To prospectively explore associations of potential risk factors at age 18 with suicide and self-harm in middle-aged men.

Method

A population-based Swedish longitudinal cohort study of male conscripts with no history of self-harm at enlistment in 1968–1989 (n = 987 583). Conscription examinations included measures of cognitive performance, stress resilience, psychiatric diagnoses, body mass index (BMI), cardiovascular fitness and muscle strength. Suicides and self-harm at age 45–65 years were identified in the National Hospital Register and Swedish Cause of Death Register. Risks were calculated using Cox proportional hazards models.

Results

Low stress resilience (cause-specific hazard ratio CHR = 2.31, 95% CI 1.95–2.74), low cognitive ability (CHR = 2.01, 95% CI 1.71–2.37) as well as psychiatric disorders and low cardiovascular fitness in late adolescence were associated with increased risk for suicide in middle-aged men. Similar risk estimates were obtained for self-harm. In addition, high and low BMI as well as low muscle strength were associated with increased risk of self-harm. Associations also remained significant after exclusion of men with self-harm before age 45.

Conclusions

This prospective study provides life-course perspective support that psychological and physical characteristics in late adolescence may have long-lasting consequences for suicidal behaviour in middle-aged men, a very large population at heightened risk of suicide.

Copyright

Corresponding author

Correspondence: Jenny Nyberg. Email: jenny.nyberg@neuro.gu.se

Footnotes

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Declaration of interest: None.

Footnotes

References

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Late-adolescent risk factors for suicide and self-harm in middle-aged men: explorative prospective population-based study

  • Jenny Nyberg (a1), Sara Gustavsson (a2), Maria A. I. Åberg (a3), H. Georg Kuhn (a4) and Margda Waern (a5)...

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Late-adolescent risk factors for suicide and self-harm in middle-aged men: explorative prospective population-based study

  • Jenny Nyberg (a1), Sara Gustavsson (a2), Maria A. I. Åberg (a3), H. Georg Kuhn (a4) and Margda Waern (a5)...
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