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The annual number of suicides in Japan increased sharply in 1998, and since that time it has consistently exceeded 30,000 per year. In this study, we analyze a database of personal and background characteristics of 824 cases (605 men, 219 women) who completed suicide in Okayama Prefecture in 2002 and 2003. The data were obtained with cooperation from the police. Using the methodologies in a previous European study as a model, we classified the suicide methods into 8 categories. To examine the generational and regional differences in the choice of methods, we stratified the sample into 4 age groups (<-24, 2544, 4564, and >-65) and 2 regional groups (Okayama/Kurashiki vs. other areas). Our results on gender differences in 7 of the suicide methods were mostly similar to the European data. However, our data showed a remarkably higher proportionate male-to-female mortality ratio for poisoning by other substances (ICD-10, X65-X69 codes) (1.83, 1.15-2.92). In terms of generational differences in the choice of suicide methods, the Mantel-Haenszel test of homogeneity was significant for most of the categories in our study, suggesting an impact of age on how people commit suicide. There were no remarkable regional differences in our sample. An epidemic curve for suicides via carbon monoxide poisoning using charcoal briquets revealed a trend of time clustering not observed in the other 6 means. The database constructed and used in this study contains richer information than conventional death statistics and is expected to provide helpful knowledge and insights for future epidemiological studies.
Acta Medica Okayama
Okayama University Medical School
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