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J Clin Forensic Med. 2000 Mar;7(1):6-9.

Early adolescent suicide: a comparative study.

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Forensic Science Centre, Adelaide, Australia.


A study was undertaken of suicides in children and adolescents aged 16 years and under in South Australia, (Australia), and in San Diego County (USA) from January 1985 to December 1997. In South Australia there were 48 cases of youth suicide, representing 2% of the total number of 2251 suicides over that time. There were 34 males and 14 females (age range 13 to 16 years; mean = 15.3 years), with 22 hangings (46%), six gunshot wounds (13%), five train deaths (10%), four drug overdoses (8%), four jumping deaths (8%), three self immolations (6%), three carbon-monoxide inhalations (6%) and one electrocution (2%). In San Diego County there were 70 cases, representing 1.6% of the total number of 4492 suicides. There were 48 males and 22 females (age range 11 to 16 years; mean = 14.7 years), with 41 gunshot wounds (59%), 21 hangings (30%), six drug overdoses (9%), and two jumping deaths (3%). Preferred methods of suicide differed between the two areas, with significantly more gunshot suicides in San Diego compared to South Australia. The methods of suicide also differed in South Australia from older age groups, with more hangings, jumping deaths and self immolations, and fewer firearm and carbon monoxide inhalation deaths. Suicides in adolescents under the age of 17 years in both populations were, however, rare, with no demonstrable increase in numbers over the time of the study.


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