Clustering of suicides among people with mental illness

Nigel McKenzie, Sabine Landau, Navneet Kapur, Janet Meehan, Jo Robinson, Harriet Bickley, Rebecca Parsons, Louis Appleby

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    BACKGROUND: Most previous investigations of imitative suicide have reported suicide clustering in the general population, either temporal clustering following media reporting of suicide or case studies of geographically localised clusters.

    AIMS: To determine whether space - time and space-time-method clustering occur in a national case register of those who had recent contact with mental health services and had died by suicide and to estimate the suicide imitation rate in this population.

    METHOD: Knox tests were used for space-time and space-time-method clustering. Model simulations were used to estimate effect size.

    RESULTS: Highly significant space-time and space-time-method clustering was found in a sample of 2741 people who died by suicide over 4 years who had had recent contact with one of 105 mental health trusts. Model simulations with an imitation rate of 10.1% (CI 4-17) reproduced the observed space-time-method clustering.

    CONCLUSIONS: This study provides indirect evidence that imitative suicide occurs among people with mental illnesses and may account for about 10% of suicides by current and recent patients.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)476-480
    Number of pages5
    JournalBritish Journal of Psychiatry
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2005


    • Cause of Death
    • Humans
    • Imitative Behavior
    • Mental Disorders/mortality
    • Space-Time Clustering
    • Suicide/psychology
    • United Kingdom/epidemiology


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