Year: 2023 Source: Injury Epidemiology. (2022). 9, 45. SIEC No: 20230337
Background Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States, with over half of cases involving firearms. Despite research indicating negative effects of exposure to suicide, there is little research on who typically finds the body of the suicide decedent. Understanding who finds the body of the suicide decedent may be important to understand trauma and mental health effects. Findings Of the 332 people who died by suicide in El Paso County, Colorado, 182 (55%) used firearms. Those who died by firearm suicide were more likely to be male (83.5% vs. 67.3%) have military affiliation (39.0% vs. 19.3%) and were less likely to have a known mental health diagnosis (47.3% vs. 64.7%) compared to those who died from other means. Most suicide decedents were found by a family member or friend (60.2%). The remaining decedents were found by a stranger/acquaintance (21.0%) or a first responder (22.4%) One-fifth of suicides involved forced witnessing (19%) and the majority were already deceased when the body was discovered (73.2%). Conclusions While most suicide decedents are discovered by a family member or a friend, it is unknown what the bereavement and trauma-related outcomes are among people who discover a suicide decedent who has died by violent means, especially by firearms. Further studies exploring who discovers suicide decedents and targeted postvention strategies for supporting impacted family, friends, first responders, and strangers are needed.