Patterns and motivations for method choices in suicidal thoughts and behaviour: Qualitative content analysis of a large online survey

Marzano, L., Katsampa, D., Mackenzie, J.-M., Kruger, I., El-Gharbawi, N., Ffolkes-St-Helene, D., Mohiddin, H. and Fields, B. 2021. Patterns and motivations for method choices in suicidal thoughts and behaviour: Qualitative content analysis of a large online survey. British Journal of Psychiatry. 7 (2) e60. https://doi.org/10.1192/bjo.2021.15

TitlePatterns and motivations for method choices in suicidal thoughts and behaviour: Qualitative content analysis of a large online survey
TypeJournal article
AuthorsMarzano, L., Katsampa, D., Mackenzie, J.-M., Kruger, I., El-Gharbawi, N., Ffolkes-St-Helene, D., Mohiddin, H. and Fields, B.
Abstract

Background
Choice of suicide method can strongly influence the outcome of suicidal behaviour, and is an important aspect of the process and planning involved in a suicide attempt. Yet, the reasons why individuals consider, choose or discard particular methods are not well understood.
Aims
This is the first study to explore method choices among people with a history of suicidal behaviour and individuals who have experienced, but not enacted, suicidal thoughts.
Method
Via an online survey, we gathered open-ended data about choice of methods in relation to suicidal thoughts and behaviours, including reasons for and against specific means of harm.
Results
A total of 712 respondents had attempted suicide, and a further 686 experienced suicidal thoughts (but not acted on them). Self poisoning was the most commonly contemplated and used method of suicide, but most respondents had considered multiple methods. Method choices when contemplating suicide
included a broader range of means than those used in actual
attempts, and more unusual methods, particularly if perceived to be lethal, ‘easy’, quick, accessible and/or painless. Methods used in suicide attempts were, above all, described as having been accessible at the time, and were more commonly said to have been chosen impulsively. Key deterrents against the use of specific methods were the presence of and impact on other people, especially loved ones, and fears of injury and survival.
Conclusions
Exploration of method choices can offer novel insights into the transition from suicidal ideation to behaviour. Results underscore the need for preventative measures to restrict access to means and delay impulsive behaviour.

KeywordsAttempted suicide; suicide; self-harm; suicidal ideation; suicide method.
Article numbere60
JournalBritish Journal of Psychiatry
Journal citation7 (2)
ISSN0007-1250
1472-1465
Year2021
PublisherCambridge University Press
Publisher's version
License
CC BY 4.0
File Access Level
Open (open metadata and files)
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1192/bjo.2021.15
Publication dates
Published24 Feb 2021

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