10% of single vehicle crashes are ‘suicide bids’

As many as 10% of single vehicle road collisions could be suicide attempts, it has been claimed.

A report published yesterday by the National Centre for Treatment of Pelvic and Acetabular Fractures at Tallaght Hospital in Dublin said it was dealing with a rise in major pelvic injuries and related fractures because of the reported increase in cases of suspected vehicular attempted suicide.

Dr John McElwain, professor of trauma orthopaedic surgery at the centre, estimated around 10% of cases dealt with each year involving a single-vehicle collision with a sole occupant were suspected attempted suicides.

The claims would mean around 12 cases a year dealt with by the centre may have been suicide attempts, causing severe injuries with long recovery times.

However, a matching number of verdicts in coroners’ courts is unlikely as the criteria for reaching such a verdict are seldom met, meaning just a very small number of vehicular suicide verdicts have been passed.

Prof Denis Cusack, director of the Medical Bureau of Road Safety at University College Dublin, said the number of single-vehicle accidents with one occupant that could be suicide was very small.

But he said attempts at self harm through use of vehicle was more likely to result in serious or catastrophic injury.

The Road Safety Authority said it would have to review the report before commenting.

Meanwhile, the National Registry for Self Harm has said 64% of all self-harm presentations in children aged 10 to 17 involved an overdose.

In a response to a Dáil question by Labour’s Bernard Durkan to the Minister for Health, information provided by the HSE via the NRSF said an overdose was more likely in the case of girls (68% of admissions) than boys (56%).

Alcohol was involved in 15% of cases while cutting was involved in 32% of all episodes last year.

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