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Body Mass Index and Suicide

Austin, Amy E. BHlthSc (Hons)*†; van den Heuvel, Corinna PhD*; Byard, Roger W. MD*†

The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology: June 2014 - Volume 35 - Issue 2 - p 145–147
doi: 10.1097/PAF.0000000000000094
Original Articles

It has been suggested that there is a connection between depression and an increased body mass index (BMI). As depression is related to suicide, a South Australian cohort study was performed to test whether a high BMI may also characterize victims of suicide. Body mass indexes from 100 consecutive cases of suicide (male-to-female ratio, 1:1) taken from the files of Forensic Science South Australia in Adelaide, Australia, were compared with BMIs from 100 sex- and age-matched control cases, where deaths were due to accidents, homicides, or natural diseases. No significant differences in BMIs and BMI categories were found between the 2 groups. However, when cases were subclassified according to the method used, BMIs were noted to be considerably lower in hangings than in both the control group as well as in victims who died of alternative means of suicide (P < 0.001). An association between an increased BMI and suicide could not be substantiated in this local study. However, the reasons for the decreased BMIs in hangings require further consideration that may assist in understanding more about particular victim subgroups.

From the *Discipline of Anatomy and Pathology, The University of Adelaide; and †Pathology, Forensic Science SA, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia.

Manuscript received July 8, 2013; accepted January 21, 2014.

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

Reprints: Amy E. Austin, BHlthSc (Hons), Discipline of Anatomy and Pathology, Level 3, Medical School North Bldg, The University of Adelaide, Frome Rd, Adelaide, South Australia 5005, Australia. E-mail:

© 2014 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.