Background Taipei has seen a substantial increase in suicide rates during the past decade, with a significant rise between 2004 and 2006, the time of this study period.
Methods A decompositional analytic method was used to quantify the relative contributions of age, sex and case fatality of methods to attempts and suicides.
Results From 2004 to 2006, the rate of fatal and non-fatal suicide attempts combined for population aged 15 years or above in Taipei increased by 37.3%, while the suicide rate increased by 29.2%. Three factors in these analyses contributed to the increase in suicide rates: (1) an increase in number of attempts, (2) a greater proportion of men among fatal and non-fatal attempts and (3) an increase in the use of a lethal method—burning of charcoal to produce carbon monoxide. The authors estimated that 74.5% and 25.6% among men and women, respectively, of the overall increased suicide mortality were attributable to increased ‘charcoal burning suicides.’
Conclusions The rise in suicide rate reflected an increase in attempts and an influx of working-age men joining the pool of people attempting suicide. The much larger size of the attempter pool had the effect of reducing the case fatality even as the suicide rate climbed. The increase in the number of suicide attempts and the rise in the suicide rate were age-, sex-, and method-specific. These results strongly support the concept that reducing the total number of attempts is a central element to curbing suicides.
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Funding The research was supported by the department of Health, Taipei City Government and the RGC General Research Fund (2010/2011, HKU 784210M).
Competing interests None.
Ethics approval Ethics approval was obtained from Taipei City Hospital (IRB no: TCHIRB-991222-E).
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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