Psychological autopsy of seventy high school suicides: Combined qualitative/quantitative approach

G. Zalsman*, Y. Siman Tov, D. Tzuriel, G. Shoval, R. Barzilay, N. Tiech Fire, M. Sherf, J. John Mann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective Suicide is the leading cause of death among Israeli youths but data on causes are scarce. This study used psychological autopsies of 70 Israeli school students who committed suicide during 2004–2011, attempting to determine the causes. Methods Four narratives of the self were identified (qualitative analysis) and compared (quantitative analysis): (1) regressive: functioning and mood deteriorated continuously (45%); (2) tragic: doing well until rapid decline around suicidal crisis (20%); (3) unstable: peaks and crises throughout life (20%); and (4) stable: long lasting state of adverse living circumstances (15%). Functioning, mental disorders, stressful life events and substance abuse were examined. Results A representative profile of the suicide-completer emerged. Suicidality in the tragic narrative involved shorter crisis, fewer risk factors and less psychopathology than the other narratives, also better general functioning and better school performance. Though decrease in functioning was evident in all groups, in the tragic group it tended to be disregarded. Conclusion This study presents an in-depth analysis of a unique suicide population of high school students. A combined methodology of qualitative and quantitative analyses reveals a distinct subpopulation of suicidal adolescents with little or no overt psychopathology that poses a challenge to suicide prevention strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8-14
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Psychiatry
Volume38
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2016

Keywords

  • Adolescence
  • Depression
  • Postmortem
  • School
  • Suicide

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