Psychological Autopsy of 101 Suicide Cases from Northwest Region of India

Article excerpt

Byline: B. Chavan, Gurvinder. Singh, Jaspreet. Kaur, Reshma. Kochar

Background: The present study was conducted by the Department Of Psychiatry, Govt. Medical College and Hospital, Chandigarh, to investigate suicide cases during the year 2003. Aim: To assess the socio-demographic characteristics, psychosocial factors, and psychiatric and physical comorbidity associated with completed suicide. Materials and Methods: One hundred one suicide cases were assessed using semi-structured proforma for recording socio-demographic profile, psychosocial variables, and treatment details. Results: Majority (59.4%) of suicide victims were in the age group of 20 to 29 years. Males (57.4%) slightly outnumbered females (42.57%) in this study. As many as 57.4% of the subjects had migrated from other parts of India. Hanging was the most common method used by the suicide victims (72.2%). Psycho-social stressors were found in 61 (60.3%) suicide victims. Psychiatric illness was found in 34 cases (33.6%). However, out of them only 16 (48.5%) suicide victims sought treatment prior to the attempt. As many as 57.4% of the subjects had shown behavioral change before the suicidal attempt. Conclusions: Our study suggests that specific focus in suicide prevention strategies should be on migrant population.


In depth study of the history of suicide prior to the suicidal act is known as psychological autopsy.[sup] [1] This is the most informative means of studying the nature and causes of suicide.[sup] [2] This method is commonly used in various studies to assess and manage suicidal patients.[sup] [3],[4] Findings from such studies offer clues for planning suicide prevention strategies. Suicide rate in India is approximately 11.4 per 1 lakh in males and 8.0 per 1 lakh in females.[sup] [5] India and China are responsible for 30% of all cases of suicide worldwide.[sup] [5]

In an Indian study, it was reported that predominant suicidal victims were unemployed males, middle-aged and high school-educated subjects; and they were mostly from a rural background.[sup] [6] Even people with low suicidal intention may end up in completed suicides as a result of using more lethal methods and inadequate treatment.[sup] [7] In India, it is the comparatively younger people who are suicide victims.[sup] [8],[9] This phenomenon of successful completion of suicide is a dangerous trend in India. While the population increase in the last decade was 25%, the suicide rate increased by 60%.[sup] [10]

In our country, there is a paucity of studies regarding psychological autopsy of suicide victims. Various psycho-social characteristics of suicide victims in the northwest region of India, which had been witnessing a large number of suicides, are inadequately studied. In the year 2003, Chandigarh, which is a small city with a population of 10 lakhs with the highest per capita income, witnessed a large number of suicides. One hundred thirty cases of suicide were reported in the media, and many more must have gone unreported. Many suicide victims were young school-going children. These developments raised an alarm for Chandigarh administration, and it was decided to investigate the problem and initiate interventions at different levels. Department of Psychiatry, Government Medical College and Hospital, Chandigarh, was made the nodal agency for assessment, training, and treatment. Hence in the present study, an attempt was made to investigate suicide cases that occurred in the year 2003, with the following aims and objectives:

*To study the socio-demographic characteristics, psycho-social factors, and psychiatric and physical comorbidity associated with completed suicide. *To evaluate the method used in suicide completion. *To study the details of treatment sought prior to suicide.

Materials and Methods


This study pertains to the 130 suicide cases that occurred in the general population residing in the Union Territory, Chandigarh, in the year 2003. …


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