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Short Report

Child and Adolescent Suicides in Bosnia and Herzegovina Before and After the War (1992–1995)

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Background: Evidence on youth suicides from Southeastern Europe is scarce. We are not aware of previous reports from Bosnia and Herzegovina, which experienced war from 1992 to 1995. Durkheim’s theory of suicide predicts decreased suicide rates in wartime and increased rates afterward. Aims: To compare child and adolescent suicides in Bosnia and Herzegovina before and after the war. Methods: Data on youth suicide for prewar (1986–90) and postwar (2002–06) periods were analyzed with respect to prevalence, sex and age differences, and suicide methods. Suicide data from 1991 through 2001 were not available. Results: Overall youth suicide rates were one-third lower in the postwar than in the prewar period. This effect was most pronounced for girls, whose postwar suicide rates almost halved, and for 15–19-year-old boys, whose rates decreased by about a one-fourth. Suicides increased among boys aged 14 or younger. Firearm suicides almost doubled proportionally and were the predominant postwar method, while the most common prewar method had been hanging. Conclusions: The findings from this study indicate the need for public education in Bosnia and Herzegovina on the role of firearm accessibility in youth suicide and for instructions on safe storage in households. Moreover, raising societal awareness about suicide risk factors and suicide prevention is needed.