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Suicide Life Threat Behav. 2011 Feb;41(1):1-5. doi: 10.1111/j.1943-278X.2010.00005.x. Epub 2011 Jan 24.

A closer look at self-reported suicide attempts: false positives and false negatives.

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Suicide Prevention Research Program, Paracelsus Private Medical University, Salzburg; Kurosch Yazdi, Landesnervenklinik Wagner-Jauregg, Linz, Austria.


The validity of self-reported suicide attempt information is undermined by false positives (e.g., incidences without intent to die), or by unreported suicide attempts, referred to as false negatives. In a sample of 1,385 Austrian adults, we explored the occurrence of false positives and false negatives with detailed, probing questions. Removing false positives decreased the rate of suicide attempters from 4.3% to 2.7%. Probing questions also revealed 0.8% false negatives. We recommend using probing questions with both those who report a suicide attempt and those who do not report a suicide attempt to increase the validity of self-reported suicide-related information.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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