Suicide methods in south Asia over two decades (2001-2020)

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Background: Suicide is a global preventable public health problem. About a quarter of all suicides in the world occur in South Asia. As means restriction is an important suicide prevention strategy, gaining knowledge of the common suicide methods and their changing trends in each country and region is crucial.
Aims: We aimed to assess the suicide methods in South Asian countries over the last two decades.
Methods: A search was performed in PubMed, PubMed Central, Scopus, and Google Scholar with the search terms. Original articles of quantitative studies, published in the English language, from 2001 to 2020, with full-accessible text, that rank different methods of suicide in eight South Asian countries, were included.
Results: A total of 68 studies were found eligible for review. The Maximum number of studies were found from India (n = 38), followed by Bangladesh (n = 12), Pakistan (n = 9), Sri Lanka (n = 6), and Nepal (n = 3). Hanging (n = 40, 55.8%) and poisoning (n = 24, 35.3%) were the two most common suicide methods reported, in that order. Hanging followed by poisoning were the commonest suicide methods in Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan while in Sri Lanka, poisoning was the preferred method to hanging. There is a decline in suicide by poisoning and an increase in suicide by hanging in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and India. Although hanging is still the commonest method in Pakistan, the use of firearms is growing in recent years (2011-2020).
Conclusions: There is a steady decline in the incidence of suicides by poisoning following pesticide regulations in South Asian countries. However, there is heterogeneity of study methods, probable under-reporting of suicide, and lack of robust suicide data.


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Publication (Name of Journal)

International Journal of Social Psychiatry