Birthday blues: Examining the association between birthday and suicide in a national sample
Williams, A., While, D., Windfuhr,K., Bickley, H., Hut, I.M., Shaw, J., ... & Kapur, N.
Background: Socioculturally meaningful events have been shown to influence the timing of suicide, but the influence of psychiatric disorder on these associations has seldom been studied. Aims: To investigate the association between birthday and increased risk of suicide in the general population and in a national sample of psychiatric patients. Methods: Data on general population suicides and suicide by individuals in recent care of mental health services were examined for day of death in relation to one's birthday using Poisson regression analysis. Results: An increased risk of suicide was observed on day of one's birthday itself for males in both the general population (IRR = 1.39, 95% CI = 1.18-1.64, p < .01) and the clinical population (IRR = 1.48, 95% CI = 1.07-2.07, p = .03), especially for those aged 35 years and older. In the clinical population, risk was restricted to male patients aged 35-54 and risk extended to the 3 days prior to one's birthday. Conclusions: Birthdays are periods of increased risk for men aged 35 and older in the general population and in those receiving mental health care. Raising health-care professionals' awareness of patient groups at greater risk at this personally significant time may benefit care planning and could facilitate suicide prevention in these individuals.