Gender differences in youth suicide and healthcare service use.
Guerra, S. & Vasiliadis, H.
Healthcare service use among suicide decedents must be well characterized and understood since a key strategy for preventing suicide is to improve healthcare providers’ ability to effectively detect and treat those in need. Aims: To determine gender differences in healthcare service use 12 months prior to suicide. Method: Data for 1,231 young Quebec residents (≤ 25 years) who died by suicide between 2000 and 2007 were collected from public health insurance agency databases and coroner registers. Healthcare visits were categorized according to the setting (emergency department [ED], outpatient, and hospital) and their nature (mental health vs. non-mental health). Results: Girls were more likely than boys (82.5% vs. 74.9%, p = .011) to have used healthcare services in the year prior to death. A higher proportion of girls had used outpatient services (79.0% vs. 69.5%, p = .003), had been hospitalized (25.7% vs. 15.6%, p < .001) and had received a mental health-related diagnosis (46.7% vs. 33.1%, p < .001). However, no gender differences were observed in ED visits (59.5% vs. 54.5%, p = .150). Conclusion: There is an important proportion of suicide decedents who did not receive a mental health diagnosis and healthcare services in the year prior to death. Future studies should focus on examining gender-specific individual and health system barriers among suicide decedents as well as the quality of care offered regarding detection and treatment.