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September 1975

Wrist CuttingRelationship Between Clinical Observations and Epidemiological Findings

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine; and the Depression Research Unit, Connecticut Mental Health Center, New Haven.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1975;32(9):1166-1171. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1975.01760270098014

• Reports of select samples have described suicide attempt by wrist cutting as a unique clinical syndrome occurring in young, single, attractive women, associated with specific psychological characteristics. A St. Louis study of a large unselected sample found that persons who cut their wrists were similar to other suicide attempters and were not more apt to be single females who made repeated attempts. These findings are repeated in a New Haven, Conn, study suggesting that reports of persons cutting their wrists should be reconsidered in light of these epidemiologic findings.

Institutional differences in patient sampling can account for lack of agreement. While clinical observations are important, additional study through epidemiologic approaches is necessary before conclusions about new syndromes can be made. Current evidence on wrist cutting raises questions about the existence of a separate syndrome.