Reasons for desiring death: examining causative factors of suicide attempters treated in emergency rooms in Korea

Meerae Lim, Sung-Wan Kim, Yoon-Young Nam, Eunsoo Moon, Jechun Yu, Soojung Lee, Jae Seung Chang, Jin-Hyeong Jhoo, Boseok Cha, Jung-Seok Choi, Yong Min Ahn, Kyooseob Ha, Jayoun Kim, Hong Jin Jeon, Jong-Ik Park
Journal of Affective Disorders 2014, 168: 349-56

BACKGROUND: Suicide attempters treated in emergency rooms were studied in order to understand the motives behind this behavior. Disparities between the etiological contributions to suicidal ideation, intention, and action were examined in order to characterize motives in these categories.

METHODS: Suicide attempters who visited the emergency departments of seven university hospitals were analyzed. Attempts leading to mortality were excluded from the analysis. Participants were assessed using semi-structured questionnaires, the results of which were noted on their medical records. These were analyzed retrospectively.

RESULTS: Attempter self-report assessment revealed that participants chose external sources of stress (75.4%) and psychiatric symptoms (19.1%) as their main reasons for attempting suicide. However, assessments by interviewers indicated that stressors contributed to suicide attempts to a lesser degree (52.8%) while psychiatric symptoms were more etiologically relevant (36.6%). Compared to those with stressors that was identified as causal in both self-report and clinician assessed evaluation, the participants-regardless of their self-report evaluation-who identified with causal psychiatric symptoms by psychiatrist had more severe and intense suicidal ideation and more determined suicidal intention.

LIMITATIONS: We collected samples from only university hospitals, resulting in selection bias. In addition, we did not use psychiatric scales to evaluate the participants׳ symptoms.

CONCLUSIONS: Stress was the greatest motive for attempting suicide, affirmed in both self-report and clinician assessed evaluation. A fair proportion of people were objectively identified as being motivated by psychiatric symptoms, yet were unaware of what they suffered from. Furthermore, suicide severity, intensity, and suicidal intention were stronger in psychiatrically driven cases.

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