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Objectives: A descriptive analysis of suicide by burning in England and Wales in the general population and in people of South Asian origin. Design: A cross-sectional secondary analysis of a national data set. Setting: A population study of all those who died by suicide in England and Wales between 1993 and 2003 inclusive. Participants: All cases of suicide and undetermined intent identified by the Office for National Statistics for England and Wales. A computer algorithm was used to identify people of the South Asian origin from their names. There were 55 140 suicides in the UK between 1993 and 2003. The ratio of male to female suicides was 3:1. There were 1455 South Asian suicides identified by South Asian Name and Group Recognition Algorithm. Primary and secondary outcome measures: Death by suicide and undetermined intent, as determined by Coroner's Inquest. ICD9 codes E958.1 and E988.1 and ICD10 codes X76 and Y26. Results: 1.77% of suicides in the general population and 8.45% of suicides in the South Asian origin population were by burning. The suicide rate by burning was 0.8/100 000 person-years for England and Wales and 2.9/100 000 person-years for the South Asian origin population. The odds of suicide by burning were increased in the South Asian group as a whole (OR 3.06, 95% CI 2.30 to 4.08). Those born in Asia and Africa were at higher risk than those born in the UK (OR 2.69, 95% CI 2.01 to 3.60 and OR 2.10, 95% CI 1.46 to 3.01, respectively). The increased risk was for those aged 25-64 years. Conclusion: Suicide by burning remains a significant issue in the South Asian origin working-age population in England and Wales. A prevention strategy could target working-age people of South Asian origin born abroad as they are at the highest risk. More in depth research on the reasons for using this method may help to identify possible prevention strategies.

Original publication




Journal article


BMJ Open

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