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Monday, July 22, 2013

Characterization of Suicidal Behaviour with Self-Organizing Maps

The study of the variables involved in suicidal behavior is important from a social, medical, and economical point of view. Given the high number of potential variables of interest, a large population of subjects must be analysed in order to get conclusive results.

In this paper, we describe a method based on self-organizing maps (SOMs) for finding the most relevant variables even when their relation to suicidal behavior is strongly nonlinear. We have applied the method to a cohort with more than 8,000 subjects and 600 variables and discovered four groups of variables involved in suicidal behavior.

According to the results, there are four main groups of risk factors that characterize the population of suicide attempters: mental disorders, alcoholism, impulsivity, and childhood abuse.

The identification of specific subpopulations of suicide attempters is consistent with current medical knowledge and may provide a new avenue of research to improve the management of suicidal cases.

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