Objectives: This study examines the backgrounds of 100 people who died by suicide and whose cases were adjudicated on consecutively over a five-year period, by the two Cork City coroners.
Method: Five main sources of information were used; coroners, relatives, investigating police, general practitioners and hospital records. The cases were examined under the headings of age and gender differences; methods used; social circumstances; illness; treatment prior to death and previous attempts. Certain information may have been missed because peers were not interviewed. There were 72 males and 28 females.
Results: In the 15-44 age group, the male female ratio was 4:1; in those over 45 the ratio was almost equal. Men were more likely to be unmarried even when age differences were taken into account. All the women and all but seven of the men had a psychiatric diagnosis, but women were more than more likely to have received medical treatment in the year before their suicide than men (OR = 6.6). Thirty-seven had made at least one previous suicide attempt.
Conclusions: The study confirms that suicide, particularly for men is becoming more a young person's problem. Psychiatric illness is the single commonest association. Over a third of suicides had made a previous attempt. These findings point to the need to improve recognition of psychological distress and find effective methods to reduce parasuicide.