Skip to main content

Open Access Hangings attended by ambulance clinicians in the North East of England

Introduction: Suicide rates have risen in England over the last decade and hanging, a highly lethal method of suicide, has been the most common method. Previous work in this area identified a lack of literature discussing emergency medical services (EMS) attendance at hangings. This article aims to describe hangings attended by EMS in the North East of England in order to inform future work in this area.

Methods: A retrospective service evaluation was conducted using existing data from a comprehensive pre-hospital trauma audit database to describe patients with hanging documented in their records who were attended by ambulance clinicians between 1 December 2018 and 31 November 2020.

Results: Hanging was recorded in 604 incidents. Most cases (n = 579/604) involved adults (aged 18 years or older) with a median age of 35 years (IQR 27‐45 years), who were male (n = 410/579, 71%). Just over half (n = 341/579, 59%) of adult hangings resulted in cardiac arrest and of these, 10% (n = 33/341) were resuscitated and survived to hospital admission. Threatened and non-fatal hangings appear to have increased dramatically in the latter half of 2020. Previous suicide attempts and mental health issues were frequently reported across this population.

Conclusion: Hangings are a method of suicide which frequently result in a cardiac arrest. In the North East of England the ambulance service attends approximately one hanging per day and one fatal hanging every two days. When fatal hangings were resuscitated, pre-hospital outcomes were similar to other causes of cardiac arrest, highlighting that despite the traumatic nature of these cases resuscitation is not futile. In order to better understand this patient group and improve care, pre-hospital data need to be linked to data from other services such as mental health services and acute hospitals.

Keywords: emergency medical services; hanging; suicide

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: North East Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust ORCID iD:, URL: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5279-1412 2: North East Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust ORCID iD:, URL: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0820-1662 3: North East Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust ORCID iD:, URL: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4502-5821

Publication date: December 1, 2021

More about this publication?
  • Access Key
  • Free content
  • Partial Free content
  • New content
  • Open access content
  • Partial Open access content
  • Subscribed content
  • Partial Subscribed content
  • Free trial content