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Windfuhr and colleagues1 report a 38% reduction in suicide rates among boys aged 15–19 years but no significant decline among girls of the same age between 2001 and 2010 in England and Wales. Two months ago, we reported2 no change in mortality rates due to intentional injury in children aged 10–18 years in any of the four UK countries since 1980. Are these two reports incompatible?
Counting different deaths
Part of the reason for the different findings is they count different deaths. First, Windfuhr and colleagues counted deaths due to suicide or undetermined intent, whereas we counted all intentional injury deaths, including deaths due to suicide, homicide or undetermined intent. In our data, 6% of intentional deaths were homicides, making a marginal difference between the reports.
Second, we reported rates separately for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, whereas Windfuhr et al combined data for England and Wales. The addition of Wales to England makes little difference, adding only 6% of deaths in the 10–18-year-old age group in 2001–2010. Third, the declining trends in our analyses were diluted by grouping all ages between 10 and 18 years. Windfuhr and colleagues separately reported trends analyses for 10–14-year olds and showed much lower suicide rates than for 15–19-year olds …
Contributors PH and RG wrote the editorial.
Funding The authors’ work on child deaths was commissioned by the Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership (HQIP) on behalf of NHS England, NHS Wales, the Health and Social care division of the Scottish government, The Northern Ireland Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS), the States of Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man. RG is a co-investigator with the Farr Institute for Health Informatics Research @ UCLP.
Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.