Alvydas Navickas, Audronė Smirinenko, Petras Navickas, Laura Lukavičiūtė, Algirdas Dembinskas, Romualdas Gurevičius, Rita Aliukonienė, Alvydas Benošis, Robertas Badaras, Konstantinas Daškevičius, Jelena Daškevičienė
Main Aim: characterize the epidemiology and prevention measures of suicidal behaviour in Lithuania in the first half of the XX century. Methods and Object. Using an analytical method, this investigation focused on the search for scientific publications relating to suicide, the critical analysis of these publications and subsequent interpretation of the main findings. The main objects of interest were research articles published in Lithuanian scientific journals in the first half of the XX century. Results and Conclusions. As a result of extensive search, nine articles related to the suicide theme were located in Lithuanian scientific journals from the first half of the 20th century: two articles on original scientific suicide research, two articles on practical work, four review and informative articles and one providing theoretical discussion of suicide risk factor. The authors of these articles were scientists of various professions: four psychiatrists, two pathologoanatomists and forensic experts, one doctor of internal medicine, a surgeon and a lawyer. The suicide rate in Lithuania in the first half of the XX century was one of the lowest in Europe, e.g., in 1929: Lithuania – 9/100 000 inhabitants, Austria – 39.9, Germany – 33.2, Hungary – 29.0, Switzerland – 26.1, France – 24.5, Denmark – 24.5, Great Britain – 17.6, Sweden – 15.0, Italy – 9.5. The most popular methods of suicide were poisoning, mostly by acetic acid, (41.0%) and hanging (19.6%), i.e. mechanical means of suicide were less popular. In that period, women were 3 times more represented amongst those attempting suicide and most suicide attempts (56%) were made by persons in the age range 20-29. One of methods of prevention was the restriction of sale of industrial use concentrated acetic acid, allowing only the sale of vinegar solution (no more than 30%). Other of methods – strengthening the character of young people and emphasising the role of schools and churches in playing an important role and establishing suicide prevention offices in every city. The paper presents extensive information about the epidemiological, clinical, social and preventive aspects that were typical not only in Lithuania, but also in Europe at that time. This analysis of scientific publications show that Lithuania was less prone to suicidal behaviour than many other European countries almost one hundred years ago and thus Lithuania cannot be considered a country with a genetic predisposition to suicide, furthermore revealing that the current high rates of observed suicidal behaviour are a phenomina that have developed since that time.
Keyword(s): suicide; epidemiology; clinical manifestations; prevention; Lithuania; the first half of the XX century.
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