Adolescent suicide attempts in Baerum, Norway, 1984-2006: Trends, triggers, and underlying reasons
Background: There are presently few international studies that examine adolescents' own experience of both triggering and the underlying reasons behind their suicide attempts. Aims: To present the rates, triggering factors, and underlying reasons for such behavior. Methods: The 23-year (1984-2006) surveillance study reported includes all general hospital-treated suicide attempters aged between 13 and 19 years (n = 254) living in the municipality of Bærum, a suburb on the outskirts of Oslo, Norway. Results: Suicide attempt rates for both sexes decreased during the period of study. The female suicide attempt rate was on average 3.5 times higher than the male rate. An average of 8.2% of the suicide attempters made a repeat attempt within the following year. Overall, the most commonly reported trigger was a relational conflict (50.2%), and the most commonly reported underlying reason was a dysfunctional family situation (43.6%), followed by mental health problems (22.8%). The main gender difference for both triggers and underlying reasons was that relational conflicts were reported significantly more often by girls than by boys as triggers (55.0% versus 32.7%), and dysfunctional family issues were reported significantly more often by girls than by boys (47.1% versus 30.8%) as underlying reasons for the attempt. Mental health problems were reported less frequently as an underlying reason by girls than boys (21.2% versus 28.8%). Conclusions: A family-oriented intervention embracing the extended family system seems warranted in a majority of the cases in our study.