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Psychiatr Serv. 2001 Mar;52(3):368-75.

A review of the literature on the epidemiology of parasuicide in the general population.

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Department of Psychology, University of Washington, Seattle 98195, USA.



The author reviewed recent literature on the epidemiology of parasuicide in the general population. Major risk factors are also discussed.


Parasuicide was defined as suicide attempts and deliberate self-harm inflicted with no intent to die. Articles in English on rates of parasuicide in the general population from 1970 through June 2000 were identified by keyword searches of the PsycINFO and MEDLINE databases. Studies that provided data from a representative population sample and provided incidence or prevalence rates were included in the review. Articles focusing on subsamples such as adolescents or psychiatric patients were excluded.


Twenty studies were analyzed. Although methodological problems constitute a major limitation in interpretation of the results, the literature indicates that parasuicide is a serious public health problem. Reported annual rates of parasuicide in recent decades range from 2.6 to 1,100 per 100,000, and lifetime prevalence rates range from 720 to 5,930 per 100,000. The most important risk factors identified were younger age and female gender. Others included being single or divorced, being unemployed, having a recent change in living situation, having a mental disorder, and having a previous parasuicide incident.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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