Distinguishing suicides of persons reported missing from those not reported missing: a retrospective Scottish cohort study

Penny Woolnough*, Emily Magar, Graham Gibb

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Background: Understanding what distinguishes the suicide of individuals reported missing (missing-suicides) from those of individuals not reported missing (other-suicides) may have preventative and/or operational utility and inform our knowledge of suicide.

Aims: To assess whether specific epidemiological, sociodemographic or circumstantial characteristics differ between individuals reported missing and those not reported missing who take their own life.

Method: Content analysis of Scottish Police Death Reports, detailing 160 suicides/undetermined deaths over a 3-year period in the North-East of Scotland.

Results:Those in the missing-suicide group were more likely to be older but did not differ from the other-suicide group on any other epidemiological or sociodemographic characteristics. Individuals in the other-suicide group were more likely to be found inadvertently by people known to them. The missing-suicide group took longer to find and were more likely to be located in natural outdoor locations by police/searchers or members of the public.

Conclusions: Individuals who die by suicide and who are reported as a missing person differ from those not reported as missing in terms of factors relating to location and how they are found but not epidemiological or sociodemographic characteristics.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere16
Number of pages6
JournalBJPsych Open
Issue number1
Early online date29 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jan 2019


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