University Of Tasmania

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Suicide is not exclusively a medical problem

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-21, 18:38 authored by Saxby PridmoreSaxby Pridmore, Khan, MA

Background: In the West, beginning in the early 19th Century, the belief was published that suicide was always, or almost always, the result of a mental disorder (a medical problem). This belief became established wisdom when psychological autopsies commenced in mid-20th Century. Should this belief be inaccurate, our response to suicide (medical treatment) will need to be reconsidered.

Aim: To argue the case that metal disorder is not always, or almost always, the cause of suicide, and that suicide may occur in the absence of mental disorder.

Method: The opinion of non-medical experts were explored, including philosophers, historians, sociologists, economists and ethicists, among others. The scientific basis of psychological autopsies was explored. Epidemiology of rates in different countries and gender differences were explored.

Conclusion: Suicide is not exclusively a medical problem. While suicide is more common in people who have a mental disorder than people without a mental disorder, mental disorder is not a necessary condition. Suicide occurs in the absence of mental disorders. Thus, open discussions about the nature and causes of suicide are required, with a view to involving experts from a range of fields, and the general community, in dealing with the issue.


Publication title

Working Paper of Public Health (online)








Tasmanian School of Medicine


Azienda Ospedaliera di Alessandria

Place of publication


Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Mental health

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    University Of Tasmania