2. Department of Pathology, University of Cape Coast School of Medical Sciences, Cape Coast, Ghana.
3. Department of Pathology, School of Medicine and Health Sciences, UDS Tamale, Northern, Ghana.
Background: There are no official statistics on hanging as a method of suicide in Ghana. The aim of this study was to describe the proportions of deaths that were due to suicide by hanging, the gender and age characteristics and the type of ligature used and offer recommendations.
Material and methods: This was a retrospective autopsy study from 2003 to 2013 in our institution.
Results: About 0.34% of all autopsies performed were suicide by hanging. The male: female ratio was 7:1. The mean age of male victims was 35.6 years and that of females was 28.4 years. The modal age group of the females was 10-19 years (33.3%) while that of the males was 20-29 years (29.6%). There were no significant age differences between Male and female (p=0.08), male and the total study population (p=0.08) and also between female and the total population (p=0.73). The commonly used ligature by males was a nylon rope (46.9%), while that for female was electric cable (27.8%). In all 23.0% males and 33.3% females had no stated ligature used. For both males (52.3%) and females (22.2%) the common point of suspension was the branch of a tree. Many of the females have no stated point of suspension (55.6%). There were significant differences with regards to the type of ligature used and the point of suspension between male and female (p=0.018), male and the total study population (p=0.013) and also between female and the total study population (p=0.014). The reasons for suicide by hanging were not stated. There was a case each from the prison custody and the psychiatry hospital in Accra respectively.
Conclusion: The study found that 0.34 % of all autopsies performed were suicide by hanging. The victims were mostly younger males. The commonly used ligature was a nylon rope, with tree branch as the point of suspension. As suicide by hanging is becoming common in Ghana, there is the need to develop strategies for its prevention.
Keywords: Suicide, hanging, Ghana, autopsy, ligature