Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

Methods used for suicide by farmers in England and Wales: The contribution of availability and its relevance to prevention

  • Keith Hawton (a1), Joan Fagg (a1), Sue Simkin (a1), Louise Harriss (a1) and Aslög Malmberg (a1)...

Abstract

Background

Farmers in the UK have an elevated risk of suicide. It has been suggested that this may be related to their ease of access to dangerous means for suicidal behaviour. The extent to which farmers use these means and changes in their use may be relevant to suicide prevention.

Method

Data on 719 deaths in farmers of both genders in England and Wales between 1981 and 1993 in which a verdict of suicide or undetermined cause (open verdict) was recorded were analysed.

Results

Of 702 deaths in male farmers, farms were involved in 40.0%, hanging in 29.6%, carbon monoxide in 16.4%, poisoning in 8.0% (over half of which involved agricultural or horticultural poisons) and other methods in 6.1%. There was a considerable excess of deaths due to firearms compared with the distribution of methods of suicide and open verdict deaths in males in the general population. Hanging was also somewhat more frequent. During the study period there was a reduction in firearm death rates, particularly after 1989 when there was national legislation on firearm ownership, registration and storage. There were also fewer farming suicides after this date. By the end of the study period hanging was more frequent than deaths involving firearms.

Conclusions

Farmers who commit suicide tend to use methods to which they have easy access. Restriction of the ready availability of such methods, particularly in farmers known to be depressed or otherwise at risk, might prevent some suicides.

Copyright

Corresponding author

Professor Keith Hawton, University Department of Psychiatry, Warneford Hospital, Headington, Oxford OX3 7JX

References

Hide All
Chariton, J., Kelly, S., Dunnell, K., et al (1992) Trends in suicide deaths in England and Wales. Population Trends, 69, 1016.
Chariton, J., Kelly, S., Dunnell, K., et al (1993) Suicide deaths in England and Wales: trends in factors associated with suicide deaths. Population Trends, 71, 3442.
Clarke, R. & Lester, D. (1989) Suicide: Closing the Exits. New York: Springer-Verlag.
Cummings, P., Koepsell, T. D., Grossman, D. C., et al (1997) The association between the purchase of a handgun and homicide or suicide. American Journal of Public Health, 87, 974978.
Kreiman, N. (1976) The coal gas story: UK suicide rates 1960–1971. british Journal of Preventive and Social Medicine, 30, 8693.
Leenars, A. A. & Lester, D. (1996) Gender and the impact of gun control on suicide and homicide. Archives of Suicide Research, 2, 223234.
Lewis, G., Hawton, K. & Jones, P. (1997) Strategies for preventing suicide. British Journal of Psychiatry, 171, 351354.
Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for Scotland, Department of Agriculture for Northern Ireland, et al (1982-1991) Agricultural Statistics United Kingdom (1981–1990). London: HMSO.
Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for Scotland, et al (1992-1994) The Digest of Agricultural Census Statistics. United Kingdom (1991–1993). London: HMSO.
O'Donnell, I., Arthur, A. J. & Farmer, R. D. J. (1994) A follow-up study of attempted railway suicides. Social Science and Medicine, 38, 437442.
Office for National Statistics (1997) The Twentieth Century Mortality Files (CD-ROM). London: Office for National Statistics.
Rich, C., Young, J., Fowler, R., et al (1990) Guns and suicide: possible effects of some specific legislation. American Journal of Psychiatry, 147, 342346.
Snowdon, J. & Harris, L. (1992) Firearm suicides in Australia. Medical Journal of Australia, 156, 7983.
SPSS Inc. (1993) SPSSX for Unix: Base System User's Guide. Release 5.0. Chicago, IL: SPSS Inc.
World Health Organization (1977) Manual of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases, Injuries and Causes of Death, vol. 1, ninth revision (ICD-9). Geneva: WHO.

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed

Methods used for suicide by farmers in England and Wales: The contribution of availability and its relevance to prevention

  • Keith Hawton (a1), Joan Fagg (a1), Sue Simkin (a1), Louise Harriss (a1) and Aslög Malmberg (a1)...
Submit a response

eLetters

No eLetters have been published for this article.

×

Reply to: Submit a response


Your details


Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *