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SAMJ: South African Medical Journal

On-line version ISSN 2078-5135
Print version ISSN 0256-9574


ENGELBRECHT, C; BLUMENTHAL, R; MORRIS, N K  and  SAAYMAN, G. Suicide in Pretoria: A retrospective review, 2007 - 2010. SAMJ, S. Afr. med. j. [online]. 2017, vol.107, n.8, pp.715-718. ISSN 2078-5135.

BACKGROUND. The World Health Organization has declared suicide a global health crisis, predicting that ~1.53 million people will commit suicide annually by 2020. OBJECTIVE. A study from South Africa reviewed 1 018 suicide cases in Pretoria over 4 years (1997 - 2000). Our study was undertaken to establish whether there have been substantial changes in the profile of suicide victims who died in Pretoria a decade later. METHODS. Case records at the Pretoria Medico-Legal Laboratory were reviewed retrospectively from 2007 to 2010. RESULTS. A total of 957 suicide cases were identified. Hanging was the most common method of suicide, followed by self-inflicted firearm injury. The true incidence of suicidal intake of prescription drugs/medication was difficult to determine, because of a backlog at the state toxicology laboratories. White males and females appeared to be over-represented among suicide victims, but there has been an increase in suicide among blacks. There seems to have been a substantial decrease in the use of firearms to commit suicide - possibly reflecting a positive outcome of gun control legislation that has been introduced in the interim. CONCLUSION. Suicide continues to constitute almost 10% of all fatalities admitted to the Pretoria Medico-Legal Laboratory, confirming suicide as a major cause of mortality in our society. Further research is needed to clarify the profile of suicidal deaths, with a view to informing resource allocation and to improve preventive strategies.

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