Confidential Survey Into Southwestern Ontario Suicide
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Objective: To describe sociodemographic and clinical characteristics of suicide decedents and to explore the pattern of clinical and suicide risk assessment in primary care settings. Methods: A 3-year case series of consecutive suicides (January 1, 2012, to December 31, 2014) in Southwestern Ontario, Canada, identified by the Office of the Chief Coroner of Ontario and Ontario Forensic Pathology Service (OCC/OFPS) was conducted. Clinicians who provided care to suicide decedents completed a confidential suicide questionnaire offered online through a secured portal or by hardcopy. Results: A total of 476 suicide cases were analyzed using data extracted from the OCC/OFPS files or provided by clinicians who had completed the survey. Hanging (42.8%) was the most common method of suicide, followed by self-poisoning (17.9%). More than half of the decedents (51.8%) used psychotropic medications, and 29.4% used opiates to self-poison. Typically, these self-poisonings involved prescribed medications (70.6%). Over two-thirds (67.4%) of suicide decedents had consulted their primary care physician prior to their deaths, and 63.6% had been seen by a physician within 28 days of their death. Suicide risk assessments were reportedly conducted in 87.1% of these visits. Of those who were assessed, the immediate risk of suicide was deemed to be absent in 39.8%, low in 50.0%, moderate in 8.3%, and high in only 1.9%. Conclusion: The findings from this confidential survey may be important for the formulation of recommendations that could improve suicide prevention in primary care practice.
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