BACKGROUND The aim of this part of the Northern Ireland Suicide Study was to investigate the prevalence of DSM-III-R axis I (clinical syndrome) and axis II (personality) disorders among suicides (14 years and older) in Northern Ireland during a one-year period.
METHOD A psychological autopsy study based on a variety of documentary sources and interviews with bereaved informants and health care professionals.
RESULTS Ninety per cent of suicides (106/118) had a current axis I and/or an axis II mental disorder. At least one current axis I disorder was diagnosed in 86% of suicides (102/118), and at least one axis II disorder was diagnosed in 44% (52/118). Suicides under 30 years (92% male) were less likely to have a current axis I disorder (68%; 26/38) than those 30 years and older (95%; 76/80). Psychiatric comorbidity was present in 55% of suicides (65/118). The time between the last contact with a health care professional and death was greater among suicides under 30 years and male suicides.
CONCLUSIONS Notwithstanding the aetiological complexity of suicide, the prevention, recognition and treatment of mental disorder will continue to play key roles in suicide prevention.