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BACKGROUND: Attempted suicide rates are much higher in the UK than in the Netherlands. We have compared the characteristics of suicide attempters referred to general hospitals in Oxford and Utrecht. METHOD: We compared the characteristics of referrals for attempted suicide to a general hospital in Oxford and one in Utrecht, for the years 1988 and 1989. RESULTS: Most of the attempters in Oxford were young whereas attempters in Utrecht were older; this age difference was particularly marked in females. Utrecht attempters appeared more often to have socio-economic problems and to suffer from psychiatric and personality disorders (except substance abuse), even when account was taken of the age differences of the two populations. CONCLUSIONS: There is some evidence for different thresholds for attempted suicide in the UK and the Netherlands, although other social explanations for the difference in attempted suicide rates are feasible and require further study.

Original publication




Journal article


Br J Psychiatry

Publication Date





73 - 78


Adolescent, Adult, Aged, Cross-Cultural Comparison, Cross-Sectional Studies, Drug Overdose, England, Female, Hospitals, General, Humans, Incidence, Male, Mental Disorders, Middle Aged, Netherlands, Personality Disorders, Poisoning, Referral and Consultation, Self-Injurious Behavior, Suicide, Attempted