Original Research

Demographic profile of patients and risk factors associated with suicidal behaviour in a South African district hospital

Aneeth Sadanand, Selvandran Rangiah, Rolan Chetty
South African Family Practice | Vol 63, No 1 : Part 4| a5330 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/safp.v63i1.5330 | © 2021 ANEETH SADANAND, SELVANDRAN RANGIAH, ROLAN CHETTY | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 17 May 2021 | Published: 28 October 2021

About the author(s)

Aneeth Sadanand, Department of Family Medicine, College of Health Science, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Selvandran Rangiah, Department of Family Medicine, College of Health Science, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Rolan Chetty, Department of Family Medicine, Northdale Hospital, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa


Background: Suicidal behaviour comprises self-destructive thoughts coupled with attempts at suicide, which negatively impacts the patient, family, friends, and their community. There is a paucity of data on factors influencing suicidal thoughts and behaviour in South Africa. The aim of this study was to evaluate demographic profile and risk factors associated with suicidal behaviour.

Methods: In this retrospective descriptive and observational study, 282 medical records of patients with suicidal behaviour were studied. The risk factors and age at occurrence were tabulated. Descriptive analyses were undertaken to understand how they were distributed across key socio-demographic groups.

Results: Suicidal behaviour was particularly prominent amongst the female population. The suicidal ideation, plan and non-fatal suicide were reported by 48.6%, 29.1% and 36.5%, of patients respectively. The prevalence for suicidal ideation was significantly higher in females (54.5% vs. 31.5%; p < 0.0007) but not for suicidal plan (28.7% vs. 30.1%; p < 0.81) and suicidal attempt (37.3% vs. 34.2%; p = 0.63) as compared with males. Suicidal behaviour was positively associated with depression (r = 0.56, p < 0.001) and negatively associated with age (r = −0.16, p = 0.01). Multivariate logistic regression analysis revealed that suicidal behaviour was influenced by female gender, poor social support, depression and a family history of non-fatal suicide.

Conclusion: This research has confirmed an association between female sex and factors associated with a higher risk of suicidal behaviour.


suicidal behaviour; demographical profile; risk factors; district hospital; urban


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