Access to means of suicide, occupation and the risk of suicide: a national study over 12 years of coronial data

A Milner, K Witt, H Maheen, AD Lamontagne

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BackgroundAvailability of lethal means is a significant risk factor for suicide. This study investigated whether occupations with greater access to lethal means had higher suicide rates than those without access, and further, whether this relationship differed for females versus males.MethodsA retrospective mortality study was conducted across the Australian population over the period 2001 to 2012. Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, which collects Census information on occupation for the Australian population, and the National Coroners Information System, which records information on suicide deaths, were combined. Employed suicide records were coded by occupation and work-related access to lethal means. Descriptive analysis and negative binomial regression were used to assess the relationship between access to means and suicide.ResultsPersons in occupations with access to firearms, medicines or drugs, and carbon monoxide more frequently used these methods to end their lives than those without access to means. Females employed in occupations with access to means had suicide rates that were 3.02 times greater (95% CI 2.60 to 3.50, p < 0.001) than those employed in occupations without access. Males in occupations with access had suicide rates that were 1.24 times greater than those without access (95% CI 1.16 to 1.33, p < 0.001).ConclusionWork-related access to means is a risk factor for suicide in the employed population, but is associated with a greater risk for females than males. The findings of this study suggest the importance of controlling access to lethal methods in occupations where these are readily available.
Original languageEnglish
Article number125
Number of pages7
JournalBMC Psychiatry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • coroners' data
  • lethal means
  • occupation health
  • suicide

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