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Suicide tourism in Manhattan, New York City, 1990-2004

Archived Abstract of Former PSC Researcher

Gross, C., T.M. Piper, A. Bucciarelli, K. Tardiff, D. Vlahov, and Sandro Galea. 2007. "Suicide tourism in Manhattan, New York City, 1990-2004." Journal of Urban Health, 84(6): 755-765.

Suicide accounts for over 30,000 deaths per year in the United States and is associated with psychiatric illness and substance abuse. Research suggests a strong relationship between method of suicide and the lethal means that are readily available in one’s community of residence. However, certain individuals may also seek the opportunity for suicide outside their proximal environment, often in well-known places. Whereas prevention efforts have been aimed at certain repeatedly used sites for suicide (i.e., Golden Gate Bridge), little research has studied “suicide tourism,” the phenomenon of out of town accompanied by suicide. We collected data on all suicide deaths in New York City (NYC) between 1990 and 2004 from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of NYC. We examined trends and correlates of out-of-town residents who committed suicide in NYC. Manhattan accounted for 274 of the 407 nonresident suicides in NYC, which represented over 10% of all suicides committed in Manhattan. The most common methods of suicide for the Manhattan nonresidents were long fall, hanging, overdose, drowning, and firearms; the most common locations included hotels and commercial buildings, followed by outside locations such as bridges, parks, and streets. Nonresident victims tended to be younger, more often white and Asian and less often black and Hispanic than their residential counterparts. An analysis of nonresident suicides in Manhattan revealed that it is a location where individuals travel and take their lives, often by similar means and in similar locations. A comparison with residential suicide implied that a different type of individual is at risk for nonresidential suicide, and further research and prevention efforts should be considered.

DOI:10.1007/s11524-007-9224-0 (Full Text)

PMCID: PMC2232032. (Pub Med Central)

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