The profile analysis of attempted-suicide patients referred to Pelonomi Hospital for psychological evaluation and treatment from 1 May 2005 to 30 April 2006

E H du Toit, J M Kruger, S M Swiegers, M van der Merwe, F J W Calitz, L Philane, G Joubert


Background.Suicide is an increasing phenomenonworldwide. A suicide occurs every 40 seconds, and thereis 1 attempt every 1 to 3 seconds. By 2020, these figuresmay have doubled. No accurate statistics regarding theoccurrence of attempted suicide (or non-fatal suicidalbehaviour) in South Africa exist, because there has beenno systematic data collection. Aim. The aim of the study was to determine the profile ofpatients who had attempted suicide and were referredto Pelonomi Hospital, Bloemfontein, for psychologicalevaluation and treatment during the period 1 May 2005to 30 April 2006.Method.A descriptive, retrospective study was conducted.The study population comprised 258 attempted-suicidepatients referred to Pelonomi Hospital for psychologicalevaluation and treatment. A data form was compiled totransfer the relevant information from patients’ clinicalfiles. Results. The majority of patients were female (68.9%). Themedian age was 22 years. The most common methodused in suicide attempts was drug overdose (66%) – mostlyantidepressants (19.7%)) and analgesics (8.2%). Morefemales than males overdosed on drugs (p=0.0103).The main precipitating factors included problematicrelationships (55.4%), financial problems (22.9%),psychiatric problems (22.1%), arguments (19.8%), abuse(emotional, sexual, physical – 18.2%), low self-esteem/worthlessness/hopelessness/humiliation (16.7%), andrecent life changes (13.2%). Conclusion.The aim of the study was to determine theprofile of patients who had attempted suicide. Possiblefactors associated with suicide attempts in our samplewere identified and summarised in the form of a screeningchecklist. The value of the checklist is that it can be usedas a screening method to identify possible suicide risk inpatients.


suicide, parasuicide

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Submitted: 06 February 2008
Published: 01 March 2008

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South African Journal of Psychiatry    |    ISSN: 1608-9685 (PRINT)    |    ISSN: 2078-6786 (ONLINE)