Year: 2018 Source: Swiss Medical Weekly. (2012). 142: w13648. doi: 10.4414/smw.2012.13648. SIEC No: 20180552

Suicidal behaviour is a major source of burden of disease. While most studies focus on cost associated with completed suicides, data on costs of, non-lethal, suicide attempts are lacking. The aim of this study was to assess direct annual cost of suicide attempts in Basel in 2003 from a health services perspective.

Retrospective cost-of-illness-study of the Basel cohort of the 2003 WHO/EURO-Multicentre Study on Parasuicide. We extracted cost information from the two major hospitals involved in treatment of these patients. We determined overall cost, compared cost medians and identified variables associated with higher cost by means of logistic regression.

For 2003, treatment of suicide attempters in Basel’s main hospitals amounted to 3,373,025 Swiss Francs (CHF), mainly attributable to psychiatric care. Mean and median cost per case were 19,165 CHF and 6,108 CHF, respectively. Based on these findings, the extrapolated direct medical costs for medical treatment of suicide attempts in Switzerland per year amount to 191 million CHF. Parameters associated with high costs were age above 65 (p<0.01), using a hard method (p<0.05), receiving intensive care (p<.05), and lethal intention (p<0.05). The ICD-10 diagnostic category F3 was associated with significantly higher costs than F1 (p<0.05) and F4 (p<0.05).

Attempted suicide produces substantial direct medical costs, which are only a part of the financial burden. Prevention targeting mood disorders, the elderly and the use of hard methods may be most cost-effective. Further research should aim at identifying additional indirect costs and the cost-effectiveness of prevention measures.