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January 1958

On Attempted Suicide

Author Affiliations

New Haven, Conn.

From the Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine.

AMA Arch NeurPsych. 1958;79(1):103-112. doi:10.1001/archneurpsyc.1958.02340010121011

Stengel1,2 has demonstrated the validity and the usefulness of distinguishing attempted suicide from suicide. His work has opened the way to the study of attempted suicide as a separate problem and has made it necessary to question the applicability of knowledge of suicide to attempted suicide. We were stimulated by this formulation and decided to undertake a study of suicide attempts seen in a general hospital. In our efforts to understand them, we found our attention directed primarily to the motivation, the interpersonal communicative functions, and the social effects of attempted suicide.

Procedure  We studied the patients brought to the New Haven Hospital emergency room after attempting suicide between July 1, 1955 and June 30, 1956. It is customary that the psychiatric staff see these patients in the emergency room. During the year of this investigation we saw 44 people who had attempted suicide, and they comprise the series