Coroners' inquisitions on 325 suicides committed during the period 1957-61 were examined.
Of these, 20 per cent. showed evidence of physical ill health and in 50 cases this contributed towards the suicide.
There was a previous history of psychiatric illness in one-third of cases and 16 per cent. had already made suicidal attempts. In over two-thirds of the suicides there was evidence of some form of mental illness.
Two different syndromes were found; in one, suicide followed a long period of psychiatric disability, and in the other represented an early symptom of psychiatric illness, often undiagnosed.