Descriptive Study on Suicides in Belize, 2014 – 2018

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Background:
Suicide is preventable with appropriate interventions and there exist many identifiable risk factors, the biggest being a prior suicide attempt. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for 15-29-year-olds worldwide. The objective of this study is to describe the trends of suicide to identify the most affected populations.

Methods:
Belize Health Information System (electronic health records) encounters between 2014 and 2018 with International Classification of Diseases – 10th Revision X60 to X84, were extracted for review, cleaning, and analysis. Secondary data including demographics, time, and suicide method were analyzed and rates calculated using Microsoft Excel.

Results:
A total of 129 suicides were recorded with a slight increase of 4% in the national rate from 2014 to 2018 (range 5.6-7.6/100,000 population). Female-to-male suicide attempt ratio was 2:1 while suicide completion ratio was 1:4. Mean male suicide rate between 2014 and 2018 was 10.9 per 100,000 population, while the mean female rate was 2.8 per 100,000 population. Majority of suicides occurred between ages 15 and 35. The 60-64-year age group had the highest mean rate of the five-year period with 21.8 deaths per 100,000 population. Stann Creek District recorded the highest mean rate in the period with 10.3 suicides per 100,000 population. Hanging was the mode of choice accounting for 67% (86) of suicides in the period. Five suicide victims had a prior attempt reported, and three died by the same attempt that had failed.

Conclusion:
Older age groups and males are the most affected populations. Hanging is the most common method. Further studies are necessary to determine if prior attempts are a strong risk factor. Training recommended to improve data quality for other demographic risk factors such as education, occupation, and marital status. It is recommended that data from the private sector be collected to strengthen surveillance. Dialogue with the Council on Aging should be initiated as intervention for the elderly.

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