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A Journal on Forensic Medicine
Minerva Medicolegale 2006 September;126(3):237
Analysis of periodic patterns in suicides occurring in correctional facilities in Italy 2002-2003
Rocchi M. B. L., Burroni G., Sisti D.
Department of Biomathematics Carlo Bo University, Urbino, Italy
Aim. The problem of the time distribution of suicides has aroused the interest of many authors, but few of them have based their investigations on statistics from jails and prisons. The aim of this paper was to show expected and unexpected periodicities in the time distribution of suicides among inmates.
Methods. We analyzed a small but complete sample of suicides (n = 86) occurring in Italian prisons in the period 2002-2003. A recently developed circular statistics technique, the maximization of mean vector length, was used.
Results. We found no significant weekly, lunar and annual patterns, but a significant intraseasonal cycle, with a marked peak at the end of the first month of each quarter (January, April, July, October).
Conclusions. Our study pointed out the existence of an intraseasonal pattern in time distribution of suicides among inmates. We suggest that this particular finding should be further investigated, possibly over a larger sample, also in other locations to establish if it is specific to our sample or can be replicated elsewhere.