Suicidal behavior in the municipality of Baerum, Norway: a 12-year prospective study of parasuicide and suicide.
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The present 12-year (1984-1995) surveillance study includes all hospitalized parasuicide patients (n = 1,031) as well as all suicides (n = 161) in the municipality of Baerum, a suburb of Oslo. The parasuicide rate decreased from 170 per 100,000 in 1984 to 79 per 100,000 in 1995 (53.5%). The parasuicide rates were lower than those in several comparable studies. Rates were higher for divorced females and separated males compared to married and other marital states, and the pattern of relative risk of parasuicide with respect to marital status was stable. Unemployment and substance abuse were positively correlated with parasuicidal behavior for both males and females. Approximately 33% reported one or more previous parasuicidal acts, and 21% repeated the parasuicide during the observation period. Ninety-four percent used self-poisoning as parasuicide method. A total of 2.4% of the parasuiciders committed suicide during the observation period. The mean annual suicide rate in Baerum was 19.0 per 100,000 compared to the national average of 14.7. The results support the notion of parasuicide and suicide being two different but overlapping populations. The implementation of a follow-up system for parasuiciders may have contributed to the reduced parasuicide rate during the study period.