Temporal variation in suicide in peri-urban pretoria

Eric D. Onoya, Nokukhanya L. Makwakwa, David P. Motloba*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Suicide is a public health problem, and the third major cause of death in Indian, black and mixed race groups. In whites suicide is the second cause of death. The patterns of suicide vary by time of day, day of the week, month of the year and seasons. As a result of limited and inaccurate data, these variations have not been fully examined in the developing world. This study investigated the diurnality and seasonality of suicide in peri-urban Pretoria, as opposed to studies conducted previously in the country’s metropolitan. Methods: A retrospective analysis of suicides recorded between 2007 and 2019 was undertaken. Data were extracted from the forensic pathology department’s database (university mortuary). Results: Of the 1515 cases of suicides examined, majority were black Africans (95.9%), male (83.9%), aged 21–40 years (50.5%). Hanging was the most common method of suicide irrespective of demographics (72.8%). Diurnal suicide variations were distinct for men and women, occurring at (16:00–20:00) and (08:00–12:00), respectively. Suicide peaked on days preceding and after the weekend (Mondays and Fridays) and in warmer seasons (summer and spring) Conclusion: The overall patterns of suicide in peri-urban Pretoria, mimic local and global trends with regard to methods, demographics and temporal characteristics. The underlying mechanism for these trends is unclear requiring in-depth investigation in order to develop appropriate interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbera5260
JournalSouth African Family Practice
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Diurnality; temporal variation
  • Peri-urban
  • Pretoria
  • Seasonality
  • Suicide


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