Sex and ethnic differences among South Tirolean suicides: A psychological autopsy study

Roger Pycha, Maurizio Pompili, Marco Innamorati, Josef Schwitzer, David Lester, Gabriele Sani, Roberto Tatarelli, Giancarlo Giupponi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: The aim of the research is to study whether any differences exist in the rates and characteristics of suicide by ethnicity and sex in South Tirol, Italy. Methods: Psychological autopsy interviews were conducted for suicides who died between March 1997 and July 2006. Results: 332 individuals belonging to the three major South Tirolean ethnic groups (Germans, Italians, Ladins [Ladin is a Rhaeto-Romance language related to the Venetian and Swiss Romansh languages]) died by suicide. Around 23% of the victims had experienced suicidal behaviour among family members, and more than 31% of them had experienced trauma during their childhood. Germans were 1.37 times more at risk to commit suicide than Italians (95% CI: 1.04/1.80; z = 2.26, p <.05). 69% of the suicides had attended school for less than 8 years: Germans (OR = 4.62; 95% CI: 2.52/8.47; p <.001) and Ladins (OR = 11.24; 95% CI: 2.99/42.30; p <.001) were more likely to have lower education than Italians. There were several differences by ethnicity and sex but no sex-by-ethnicity interactions. Conclusions: The study indicated that suicide, an alarming health and social problem in South Tirol, may require different preventive interventions for men and women and for those of different ethnicities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-56
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Psychiatry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2009


  • Ethnicity
  • Psychological autopsy
  • Suicide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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