Missing Children Publication Hub
Organization: Abertay University, Teesside University, Braemar Mountain Rescue Association
Published In: 2015
Country: United Kingdom
Suicide at home versus away: an exploration of the relationship between geo-spatial characteristics and suicide method
(by Penny Woolnough, Emily Smith, Graham Gibb)
Although only a small proportion of persons reported missing will suffer harm, the Police must risk assess every case and establish, amongst other things, whether the individual may be at risk of suicide. However, even in cases where suicide is a high risk, overt indicators (e.g., a note or verbal intimations) are not always present, making accurate suicide risk assessment particularly difficult. During any missing person enquiry, one of the initial Police actions is to search the missing person’s home address. Given that many people commit suicide within their homes the initial search often results in the location of the missing individual. However, if the missing person is not located, what implications does this have for suicide risk assessment? In order to explore this, 165 cases of suicide occurring with the Grampian region of Scotland over a three year period of time (2002-2004) were analysed to look at the relationship between suicide location, method and distance travelled. Location of suicide was found to be statistically related to the individual’s current living arrangements, whether they had attempted suicide previously and the method employed. People living alone were significantly more likely to commit suicide at home than out or away from home. A significantly greater proportion of hangings and overdose/poisonings occurred within home whilst drownings were most common away from home. Of those people who did travel away from home in order to commit suicide, the average distance travelled was 5.5km from their current address. These findings have important implications for Police risk assessment of missing and the subsequent targeted search strategy.
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