Year: 2022 Source: Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry. (2022). 1– 10. DOI: 10.1177/00048674221099822 SIEC No: 20220635

Purpose: This study aimed to explore risk factors for suicide in Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people following hospital admission for suicidal ideation and self-harm in the Northern Territory, Australia to help clarify opportunities for improved care and intervention for these population groups.

Methods: Individuals with at least one hospital admission involving suicidal ideation and/or self-harm between 1 July 2001 and 31 December 2013 were retrospectively recruited and followed up using linked mortality records to 31 December 2014. Survival analyses stratified by Indigenous status identified socio-demographic and clinical characteristics from index hospital admissions associated with suicide.

Results: Just over half of the 4391 cohort members identified as Aboriginal (n = 2304; 52.4%). By 2014, 281 deaths were observed comprising 68 suicides, representing a 2.6% and 2.0% probability of suicide for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people, respectively. After adjusting for other characteristics, a higher risk of suicide was associated with male sex (Aboriginal adjusted hazard ratio: 4.14; 95% confidence interval: [1.76, 9.75]; non-Aboriginal adjusted hazard ratio: 5.96; 95% confidence interval: [1.98, 17.88]) and repeat hospital admissions involving self-harm (Aboriginal adjusted hazard ratio: 1.37; 95% confidence interval: [1.21, 1.55]; non-Aboriginal adjusted hazard ratio: 1.29; 95% confidence interval: [1.10, 1.51]). Severe mental disorders were associated with a four times higher risk of suicide (adjusted hazard ratio: 4.23; 95% confidence interval: [1.93, 9.27]) in Aboriginal people only.

Conclusion: The findings highlight non-clinical risk factors for suicide that suggest the need for comprehensive psychosocial assessment tailored to Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people hospitalised with suicidal ideation or self-harm. Implementing appropriate management and aftercare within a broader public health framework is needed to support recovery and reduce long-term suicide risk in the community, especially for Aboriginal people and males.