communities of North Italy: a comparison
D. DE LEO, D. BANON, F. SCHIFANO, M. VASCON and L. PAVAN
In recent years the incidence of suicide, and especially of attempted suicide, has increased notably in many European countries ( WHO, 1982, Diekstra, 1985). In Italy, according to official statistics, the incidence of suicide is low and that of attempted suicide very low ( ISTAT, 1980-5). However, even in Italy there has been an appreciable increase in suicide mortality since 1975 (from 5.6 per 100 000 inhabitants in 1975 to 6.8 in 1980), while officials statistics show a reduction in attempted suicides. Our institute has implemented an epidemiological study to evaluate the real incidence of suicidal behaviour in the city of Padua. This study has revealed that the frequency of suicide is probably 100 per cent higher than reported in the national statistics, while that of attempted suicide is 10-15 times higher ( De Leoet al. 1987, 1988).
As part of a research programme on the real incidence of suicidal behaviour in the Veneto region (in which our city is located), we set up a series of studies in rural areas around Padua in order to build a 'map' of suicidal behaviour in the region. Interest in this type of survey in Italy in general derives from the need for more reliable data than those provided by the National Institute of Statistics (ISTAT) which, for 1985, for example, reported 1826 cases of attempted suicide for the whole country as against 3 706 suicides ( ISTAT, 1980-5). Figures of this sort require no further comment; it is reasonable to presume that the real figures for attempted suicide may be at least 15-20 times higher ( De Leoet al. 1988). Obviously, the problem of underestimation of suicidal behaviour is not confined to Italy but is a tendency in every country, as noted by the WHO ( 1982). It goes without saying