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Hospital visit histories of suicide decedents: a study in Utah
  1. John Berrigan1,2,
  2. Matthew Miller2,3,
  3. Wilson Zhang2,
  4. Deborah Azrael2,
  5. Catherine Barber2
  1. 1 University of Kansas School of Medicine, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, Kansas, USA
  2. 2 Harvard Injury Control Research Center, Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  3. 3 Department of Health Sciences, Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  1. Correspondence to John Berrigan, University of Kansas School of Medicine, Kansas City, KS 66160, USA; jberrigan2{at}


The study aims to describe the 3-year hospital visit histories of suicide decedents in Utah grouped by the suicide method they used. Hospital visit histories from the Utah Office of Health Care Statistics were linked to a census of suicide mortality data from the National Violent Death Reporting System in 2014 and 2015. Overall, 14% of suicide decedents had visited a hospital for deliberate self-harm (DSH) and 49% for a behavioural health issue (BHI), including DSH, suicidal ideation, mental health and substance abuse, prior to their death. Firearms suicide decedents made up over half of all suicides but were the least likely to have a history of DSH or BHI prior to their death (8% and 41%, respectively). Few suicide decedents visited a hospital for DSH prior to their death, although half had visits for BHI. Hospital-based interventions that aim to prevent suicide should not be limited to visits for DSH.

  • suicide/self-harm
  • mental health
  • firearm
  • hospital care
  • public health
  • poisoning

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  • Contributors Study conception and design: JB, MM, DA, CB. Data collection: JB, MM, DA, CB. Analysis and interpretation of results: JB, MM, DA, CB, WZ. Draft manuscript preparation: JB, MM, DA, CB, WZ. All authors reviewed the results and approved the final version of the manuscript.

  • Funding The study received funding from the Joyce Foundation and the Utah Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.