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BMC Psychiatry. 2007 Nov 7;7:64.

Psychiatric assessment of suicide attempters in Japan: a pilot study at a critical emergency unit in an urban area.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Yokohama City University School of Medicine 3-9 Fukuura, Kanazawa-ku, Yokohama, 236-0004, Japan. tomokin@urahp.yokohama-cu.ac.jp



The incidence of suicide has increased markedly in Japan since 1998. As psychological autopsy is not generally accepted in Japan, surveys of suicide attempts, an established risk factor of suicide, are highly regarded. We have carried out this study to gain insight into the psychiatric aspects of those attempting suicide in Japan.


Three hundred and twenty consecutive cases of attempted suicide who were admitted to an urban emergency department were interviewed, with the focus on psychosocial background and DSM-IV diagnosis. Moreover, they were divided into two groups according to the method of attempted suicide in terms of lethality, and the two groups were compared.


Ninety-five percent of patients received a psychiatric diagnosis: 81% of subjects met the criteria for an axis I disorder. The most frequent diagnosis was mood disorder. The mean age was higher and living alone more common in the high-lethality group. Middle-aged men tended to have a higher prevalence of mood disorders.


This is the first large-scale study of cases of attempted suicide since the dramatic increase in suicides began in Japan. The identification and introduction of treatments for psychiatric disorders at emergency departments has been indicated to be important in suicide prevention.

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