Background: Few studies on gender-based diagnostic characteristics of adolescent suicide attempters in emergency departments (EDs) have included individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
Objective: This study aimed to examine the clinical features of adolescent suicide attempts in EDs, focusing on gender differences and considering individuals with ASD.
Method: Ninety-four adolescent patients, aged less than 20 years, who had attempted suicide and had been hospitalized in an emergency department, participated in this study. Psychiatric diagnoses according to DSM-IV criteria and clinical features were compared between male and female patients.
Results: The number (%) of males was 15 (16.0), and the number of females was 79 (84.0). The mean age (SD) of males was 17.1 (1.5), and that of females was 16.9 (1.6). The attempt methods were more serious, length of stay in the emergency room longer, and rate of outpatient treatment lower in males. In addition, individuals with ASD were significantly more frequent in the male. Adjusting for age and gender, adjustment disorder was significantly associated with the presence of suicide attempters with ASD using a multivariable logistic regression.
Conclusion: For adolescent males and individuals with ASD attempting suicide, the ED was the first window for approaching psychiatric care. Psychiatrists in EDs have a crucial role as gatekeepers of preventing suicide re-attempts, especially in adolescent males or individuals with ASD having adjustment disorder.