Suicide is the leading cause of death among Japanese adolescents, and they may commit suicide differently from adults. However, there are few studies in medical-based data concerning adolescent patients seriously attempting suicide. We aimed to explore the characteristics of serious suicide attempts in Japanese adolescents, comparing them with those in adults.
We investigated adolescents who seriously attempted suicide and were treated at the Critical Care Medical Center (CCMC) of Nippon Medical School Hospital between 2000 and 2010, and we compared them with adult suicide attempters treated during 2009. We retrospectively studied medical records and collected clinical data and socio-demographic factors, including age, sex, psychiatric symptoms or diagnosis, methods of suicide attempt, motives for suicide attempt, previous deliberate self-harm, previous psychiatric history, parent loss experience, and previous psychiatric history in the family.
Adolescent attempters were 15 males and 44 females, 13 to 18 years old (mean 16.39). Adult attempters were 37 males and 65 females, 19 to 79 years old (mean 39.45). In comparison to adult attempters, adolescent attempters were more frequently diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), had more school problems and parent loss experience, but they had less financial problems. Gender differences between adolescents and adults were examined, and male adolescent attempters were found to be more frequently diagnosed with schizophrenia and had less financial problems than their adult counterparts, while female adolescent attempters were more frequently diagnosed with BPD, had more school problems and parent loss, but they had less previous psychiatric history than their adult counterparts.
Our findings indicated that adolescent attempters were more frequently diagnosed with BPD and had more school problems and parent loss experience but had less financial problems. Additionally, in male adolescent attempters, identifying patients with schizophrenia seemed important, as it was their most frequent psychiatric diagnosis. For female adolescents, adequately assessing family function and interpersonal conflicts seemed important, as they were more often diagnosed with BPD and had more school and family problems.
Keywords: Suicide attempts, Adolescents, Age differences, Critical care medicine