Objective: To identify the most frequent gender-specific suicide methods in Europe.
Design: Proportions of seven predominant suicide methods utilised in 16 countries participating in the European Alliance Against Depression (EAAD) were reported in total and cross-nationally. Relative risk (RR) relating to suicide methods and gender was calculated. To group countries by pattern of suicide methods, hierarchical clustering was applied.
Setting and participants: Data on suicide methods for 119 122 male and 41 338 female cases in 2000–4/5 from 16 EAAD countries, covering 52% of European population were obtained.
Results: Hanging was the most prevalent suicide method among both males (54.3%) and females (35.6%). For males, hanging was followed by firearms (9.7%) and poisoning by drugs (8.6%); for females, by poisoning by drugs (24.7%) and jumping from a high place (14.5%). Only in Switzerland did hanging rank as second for males after firearms. Hanging ranked first among females in eight countries, poisoning by drugs in five and jumping from a high place in three. In all countries, males had a higher risk than females of using firearms and hanging and a lower risk of poisoning by drugs, drowning and jumping. Grouping showed that countries might be divided into five main groups among males; for females, grouping did not yield clear results.
Conclusions: Research on suicide methods could lead to the development of gender-specific intervention strategies. Nevertheless, other approaches, such as better identification and treatment of mental disorders and the improvement of toxicological aid should be put in place.
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Funding: The European Alliance Against Depression is funded by the European Commission, public health executive agency, grant number 20035323, by the Estonian Scientific Foundation grants no 6799, “The role of alcohol in the suicide process and in prevention of suicidal behaviour” and no 7132, “Suicide trend in Estonia during independence: What are the associations with socio-political, economic and public health indicators?”
Competing interests: None.
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