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Spinal Cord. 2007 Jun;45(6):437-43. Epub 2007 Mar 6.

Spinal cord and related injuries after attempted suicide: psychiatric diagnosis and long-term follow-up.

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  • 1Department of Orthopaedics, Prince of Wales Hospital and University of New South Wales, Sydney NSW, Australia.



Retrospective analysis of acute spinal cord injuries (ASCI).


Determine incidence of ASCI due to suicide attempt from 1970 to 2000. Describe demographics, injuries, mental illness, functional outcomes and nature of subsequent deaths.


State spinal cord injury services, New South Wales, Australia.


Retrospective record review and follow-up interview.


Of 2752 ASCI admissions, 56 were because of attempted suicide (55 falls, one gun-shot wound). Thirty-six males and 20 females. Median age 30 years (15-74). Most common levels of vertebral injury were C5 and L1. Twenty-three had complete spinal cord injury. Thirty-two had an Injury Severity Score of >15. Forty had more than one major injury. There was a significant rise in the incidence of ASCI following self-harm over time (Poisson regression, P=0.004). There was a significant change in scene of injury away from hospitals over time (chi (2) test, df=1, P=0.0001). Psychiatric diagnoses were personality disorder 27; schizophrenia 16; depression 14; chronic alcohol abuse 10; mood disorder 10; chronic substance abuse 10; other four. Follow-up was available in 47 cases (84%) at an average of 8 years. Four subsequent deaths were by suicide. Domiciliary arrangements were: home 28; hospital five; nursing home three; group home/hostel four.


Community placement outcomes for survivors were good. Subsequent death by suicide was high. There was a significant rise in cases and a change in injury scene away from hospitals over time.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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