Characterizing Suicide in Toronto: An Observational Study and Cluster Analysis Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • OBJECTIVE: To determine whether people who have died from suicide in a large epidemiologic sample form clusters based on demographic, clinical, and psychosocial factors. METHOD: We conducted a coroner's chart review for 2886 people who died in Toronto, Ontario, from 1998 to 2010, and whose death was ruled as suicide by the Office of the Chief Coroner of Ontario. A cluster analysis using known suicide risk factors was performed to determine whether suicide deaths separate into distinct groups. Clusters were compared according to person- and suicide-specific factors. RESULTS: Five clusters emerged. Cluster 1 had the highest proportion of females and nonviolent methods, and all had depression and a past suicide attempt. Cluster 2 had the highest proportion of people with a recent stressor and violent suicide methods, and all were married. Cluster 3 had mostly males between the ages of 20 and 64, and all had either experienced recent stressors, suffered from mental illness, or had a history of substance abuse. Cluster 4 had the youngest people and the highest proportion of deaths by jumping from height, few were married, and nearly one-half had bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. Cluster 5 had all unmarried people with no prior suicide attempts, and were the least likely to have an identified mental illness and most likely to leave a suicide note. CONCLUSIONS: People who die from suicide assort into different patterns of demographic, clinical, and death-specific characteristics. Identifying and studying subgroups of suicides may advance our understanding of the heterogeneous nature of suicide and help to inform development of more targeted suicide prevention strategies.

publication date

  • January 2014