Emergency department and hospital care prior to suicide: A population based case control study

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Background: High proportions of those who die by suicide in Northern Ireland (NI) are not known to mental health services, making it important to understand contact with the wider health services. Previous research has not examined the patterns of emergency department (ED) attendance and hospital admissions amongst those who have died by suicide in NI. Objectives: The study objectives are to examine the relationships between ED attendances, hospital admissions, and death by suicide. Methods: A case control methodology was used, drawing on routinely collected administrative data on all deaths by suicide in Northern Ireland between 1/1/2012 and 31/12/2015. Each death was matched to 5 live controls, based on age and gender (n = 6630). Results: Death by suicide is associated with a recent ED attendance, with the highest odds for those who attended within the past three months (odds = 3.2, 95% CI = 2.5-4.2). Death by suicide is also associated with recent hospital admission, with the highest odds of death for admission within the past three months (odds = 6.6, 95% CI = 5.2-8.3). The odds of suicide are also higher for those living in a more deprived or urban area. Limitations: The study is limited to administrative data. Conclusions: Staff in EDs and hospitals may have a role in suicide prevention. These findings again support the importance of addressing economic deprivation and other area level factors, such as contagion in suicide prevention strategies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)366-370
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Early online date19 Feb 2019
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 15 Apr 2019


  • suicide; emergency department; hospital admission; deprivation; urban
  • Urban
  • Deprivation
  • Emergency department
  • Hospital admission
  • Suicide


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