BACKGROUND Suicide rates among young men are rising. Further information about their contacts with services and possible associated stressful life events is necessary.
METHOD The sample consisted of all cases where the coroner in the County of Avon had given an inquest verdict of suicide over a 20-month period, together with those who were categorised as suicide by a panel of psychiatrists even though they had received open or accidental inquest verdicts. The coroner's dossiers and hospital notes were examined and the relevant general practitioners interviewed.
RESULTS Interpersonal stress in the last 72 hours was much higher in younger suicides. Young male suicide were also much less likely than others to seek help. Levels of alcohol misuse were no higher in younger than older suicide.
CONCLUSIONS Various subgroups of suicide behave differently in the way they seek and utilise help. The implications of these findings for suicide prevention and service strategy are discussed.