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Epidemiology and causes of suicide 

Epidemiology and causes of suicide
Chapter:
Epidemiology and causes of suicide
Author(s):

Jouko K. Lonnqvist

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780199696758.003.0121
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date: 18 August 2019

Suicidal behaviour or suicidality can be conceptualized as a continuum ranging from suicidal ideation and communications to suicide attempts and completed suicide. A developmental process which leads to suicidal ideation, suicidal communication, self-destructive behaviour, in some cases even to suicide, and its consequences to the survivors is often referred to as a suicidal process. There is no single unanimously accepted definition of suicide, although in most proposed definitions it is considered as a fatal act of self-injury (self-harm) undertaken with more or less conscious self-destructive intent, however vague and ambiguous. Since the deceased cannot testify as to his or her intent, the conclusions about this must be drawn by inference. The evidence required for this inference depends on many factors, for example the mode of death, the use of autopsy, age, gender, social and occupational status, and the social stigma of suicide in the person’s culture. The assessment of suicide intent is always based on a balance of probabilities. This chapter discusses the suicide process and the act of suicide, epidemiology and public health aspects of suicide, basic characteristics of the suicide victim, and finally mental disorders and suicide.

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