Dr Marianne Wyder, a PhD graduate from the UWS Social Justice Social Change Research Centre, studied 90 people aged between 17 to 65 years, who had attempted suicide and had been taken to a hospital emergency department. She interviewed them as soon as possible after the event.
The study was carried out in collaboration with Westmead Hospital as part of an Australian Research Council Strategic Partnerships with Industry Research and Training (SPIRT) grant.
Dr Wyder found over half of the study participants - 51 per cent - tried to make a suicide attempt after thinking about it for 10 minutes or less, with an additional 16 per cent contemplating it for less than half an hour.
Dr Wyder found the impulsiveness of this suicidal behaviour was often fuelled by drugs and alcohol, with men the group most likely to be under the influence. Of the 29 per cent of participants who harmed themselves while affected by alcohol, the overwhelming majority - 93 per cent - said they considered their actions for less than 10 minutes.
Surprisingly, the study found that for many of these participants their suicidal impulses were short lived. Only one fifth - 21 per cent - reported still feeling suicidal 12 hours after their attempt.
Dr Wyder says the research dispels the myth that suicide attempts are always a pre-meditated, long-planned act.
"The problem of non-fatal acts of deliberate self-harm or attempted suicide is much bigger and more frequent than most of us realise.
Conservative estimates have suggested that for every death by suicide, there are between ten to thirty attempts, which means there could be anywhere between 20,000 and 60,000 people in N
Contact: Amanda Whibley