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Identifying probable suicide clusters in Wales using national mortality data

Jones, Phillip, Gunnell, David, Platt, Stephen, Scourfield, Jonathan Bryn ORCID:, Lloyd, Keith, Huxley, Peter, John, Ann, Kamran, Babar, Wells, Claudia and Dennis, Michael 2013. Identifying probable suicide clusters in Wales using national mortality data. PLoS ONE 8 (8) , e71713. 10.1371/journal.pone.0071713

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Background: Up to 2% of suicides in young people may occur in clusters i.e., close together in time and space. In early 2008 unprecedented attention was given by national and international news media to a suspected suicide cluster among young people living in Bridgend, Wales. This paper investigates the strength of statistical evidence for this apparent cluster, its size, and temporal and geographical limits. Methods and findings: The analysis is based on official mortality statistics for Wales for 2000–2009 provided by the UK's Office for National Statistics (ONS). Temporo-spatial analysis was performed using Space Time Permutation Scan Statistics with SaTScan v9.1 for suicide deaths aged 15 and over, with a sub-group analysis focussing on cases aged 15–34 years. These analyses were conducted for deaths coded by ONS as: (i) suicide or of undetermined intent (probable suicides) and (ii) for a combination of suicide, undetermined, and accidental poisoning and hanging (possible suicides). The temporo-spatial analysis did not identify any clusters of suicide or undetermined intent deaths (probable suicides). However, analysis of all deaths by suicide, undetermined intent, accidental poisoning and accidental hanging (possible suicides) identified a temporo-spatial cluster (p = 0.029) involving 10 deaths amongst 15–34 year olds centred on the County Borough of Bridgend for the period 27th December 2007 to 19th February 2008. Less than 1% of possible suicides in younger people in Wales in the ten year period were identified as being cluster-related. Conclusions: There was a possible suicide cluster in young people in Bridgend between December 2007 and February 2008. This cluster was smaller, shorter in duration, and predominantly later than the phenomenon that was reported in national and international print media. Further investigation of factors leading to the onset and termination of this series of deaths, in particular the role of the media, is required.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HA Statistics
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
Publisher: Public Library of Science
ISSN: 1932-6203
Funders: National Institute for Social Care and Health Research (NISCHR), Welsh Government
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 24 May 2023 00:10

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