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Yale J Biol Med. 1988 May-Jun;61(3):259-68.

Suicide attempts in the Epidemiologic Catchment Area Study.

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  • 1Division of Clinical Research, National Institute of Mental Health, Rockville, Maryland 20857.


This study examines risk factors for attempted suicide in the general community. Data from the five-site NIMH Epidemiologic Catchment Area (ECA) Study were used to estimate lifetime prevalence and identify risk factors for suicide attempts. Occurrence of suicide attempts and lifetime diagnosis of psychiatric disorder were ascertained, using the NIMH Diagnostic Interview Schedule (DIS). Of 18,571 adult respondents aged 18 and over, 2.9 percent reported that they had attempted suicide at some time in their lives. A weighted logistic regression model was constructed to ascertain significant (p less than .0028 with Bonferroni correction) risk factors for attempted suicide. Persons who had a lifetime diagnosis of a psychiatric disorder had the highest risk of attempted suicide (odds ratio [OR] = 8.4). Females (OR = 3.3), separated or divorced persons (OR = 2.5), Whites (OR = 1.7), persons in the two lowest socioeconomic quartiles (ORs = 2.2, 2.3), and respondents from the Los Angeles ECA (OR = 1.8) were also more likely to have attempted suicide. These findings contribute to an understanding of suicide and suicidal behavior in general populations, outside the clinical setting.

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