Objective: Suicide is increasingly acknowledged as a global problem. Yet little is known worldwide about suicide rates among adolescents. Several social factors that exist in Jamaica present as stressors and may predispose to suicide. Ascertaining prevailing patterns and associated factors is important for crafting interventions. This paper establishes adolescent suicide rates for the years 2007–2010 in Jamaica and provides related epidemiological data.
Method: Data pertaining to suicides were extracted from standardized data collected by the police. Information regarding the number of suicides among adolescents, 9–19 years of age, was reviewed for the years 2007–2010. Sociodemographic characteristics of cases: gender, location and occupation along with related variables were also examined. Variation of rates over time was ascertained. Statistically significant associations were determined by reference to p-values and confidence intervals.
Results: The incidence for suicide in adolescents was 1.1 per 100 000. Rates for males were significantly higher than females. Most suicide cases were students and the majority of cases was from rural areas (65%). Hanging was the main method used to commit suicide (96.2%). Items of clothing were commonly used for this purpose.
Conclusion: Male adolescent suicide rates showed an upward trend in contrast to the downward trend for females in the four-year period studied. Continued surveillance is needed for greater understanding of adolescent suicides. Collaboration among health services, parents, schools and communities is integral in prevention efforts. Recent media coverage of suicides provides a window of opportunity to galvanize support for research and the development of intervention strategies.