Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Fewer autopsies distorts suicide statistics, Austrian researchers report

Date:
September 12, 2011
Source:
Medical University of Vienna
Summary:
In Austria, the number of autopsies carried out has fallen over the past 20 years from 35 per cent to 17 per cent, thus distorting the official number of suicides. This is also demonstrated in a recent study involving data from 35 countries taken from suicide statistics.

In Austria, the number of autopsies carried out has fallen over the past 20 years from 35 per cent to 17 per cent. "The reduced number of autopsies is reducing the quality of the official suicide statistics," says Nestor Kapusta from the University Department of Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy. This is also demonstrated by a study led by Kapusta involving data from 35 countries taken from suicide statistics and which has just been published in the journal Archives of General Psychiatry.

In Austria, 1,300 people a year commit suicide, which is twice as many as the number of people killed in road traffic accidents. The number of unreported cases could be higher, however, since the quality of the suicide statistics is diminishing. Researchers at the MedUni Vienna are therefore -- on the occasion of World Suicide Prevention Day on Sept. 10, 2011 -- raising the alarm and asking for the "urgent preservation of the high quality of Austrian cause of death statistics and therefore also suicide statistics."

High autopsy rate, higher suicide rate

From a statistical perspective, a total of 2,139 people died in Austria from suicide 25 years ago, compared with 1,261 in 2010. Although this reduction in suicides can be attributed to the prevention work carried out since then, such as the development of the psycho-social system and greater numbers of support organisations, the results of the study suggest that the number of unreported cases is on the rise. Says Kapusta: "In countries with high autopsy rates, such as in the Baltic States or in Hungary, the suicide rate is higher than in countries with lower autopsy rates. Countries in which autopsy rates are falling are also increasingly seeing fewer recorded suicides."

The results of the study represent a plea for more autopsies. "In an international comparison, Austria has always had an excellent quality of mortality statistics, but causes of death are being recorded with less and less detail. In older people especially, autopsies are now virtually never carried out. This concerns not only suicides, but also all causes of death. The United States has already warned of this development. There, national suicide statistics are already questionably low, with there appearing to be an epidemic of poisoning with unclear intention, which really cannot be trusted."

This raises the question of how long one might still be able to trust the official suicide statistics at all, says the suicide researcher, who is also a board member of the Austrian Society for Suicide Prevention and the "Wiener Werkstδtte fόr Suizidforschung" organisation. This is because only high-quality baseline data enables demand-orientated healthcare planning to be established or prevention programmes to be evaluated from a reliable scientific perspective. "This applies not only to our sphere of activity. It's important for medicine as a whole, and in particular for health promotion and preventive research."

National suicide prevention programme

Austria is in the process of developing a national suicide prevention programme, inspired by other such programmes around the world. On 8th July 2011, the resolution was passed unanimously in parliament. Says Kapusta: "The right coordination between existing national resources and scientific knowledge has been needed and desirable for a long time now." The programme aims to create an extensive and permanent initiative for the prevention of suicide. Nestor Kapusta, along with Thomas Niederkrotenthaler and Gernot Sonneck from the MedUni Vienna, is playing a key role in the development of the programme by the Ministry of Health.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Medical University of Vienna. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. N. D. Kapusta, U. S. Tran, I. R. H. Rockett, D. De Leo, C. P. E. Naylor, T. Niederkrotenthaler, M. Voracek, E. Etzersdorfer, G. Sonneck. Declining Autopsy Rates and Suicide Misclassification: A Cross-national Analysis of 35 Countries. Archives of General Psychiatry, 2011; DOI: 10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2011.66

Cite This Page:

Medical University of Vienna. "Fewer autopsies distorts suicide statistics, Austrian researchers report." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 September 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110912075536.htm>.
Medical University of Vienna. (2011, September 12). Fewer autopsies distorts suicide statistics, Austrian researchers report. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110912075536.htm
Medical University of Vienna. "Fewer autopsies distorts suicide statistics, Austrian researchers report." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110912075536.htm (accessed April 21, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Monday, April 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Nine-Month-Old Baby Can't Open His Mouth

Nine-Month-Old Baby Can't Open His Mouth

Newsy (Apr. 19, 2014) — Nine-month-old Wyatt Scott was born with a rare disorder called congenital trismus, which prevents him from opening his mouth. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Holy Grail' Of Weight Loss? New Find Could Be It

'Holy Grail' Of Weight Loss? New Find Could Be It

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) — In a potential breakthrough for future obesity treatments, scientists have used MRI scans to pinpoint brown fat in a living adult for the first time. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) — A new report shows rates of two foodborne infections increased in the U.S. in recent years, while salmonella actually dropped 9 percent. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Create Stem Cells From Adult Skin Cells

Scientists Create Stem Cells From Adult Skin Cells

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) — The breakthrough could mean a cure for some serious diseases and even the possibility of human cloning, but it's all still a way off. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins