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Youth Suicide in New Mexico: A 26-Year Retrospective Review

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Although suicidal behavior in children and adolescents is a major public health problem, large-scale research on suicide in this population is uncommon. In this study, we reviewed autopsy and field reports for all pediatric suicide cases referred to the New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator from 1979 to 2005. The age-adjusted suicide rate was 4.8 per 100,000. Psychologic stressors and parasuicidal behavior were identified in some cases. Seventy-six percent of suicides occurred in the victim’s home or yard, and 25% left a suicide note. In 26% of cases, alcohol or other drugs were detected in postmortem. Gunshot wound was the most common method overall (58%), followed by hanging (30%). Although the age-adjusted suicide rate is higher in New Mexico than nationally, the trends in the population are similar. With a solid understanding of the circumstances, it may be possible to predict, and hopefully prevent, future cases of child and adolescent death.
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Keywords: adolescent; epidemiology; forensic science; suicide

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator, MSC11 6030, 1 University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131.

Publication date: 2008-05-01

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