Home > Suicide in Northern Ireland: epidemiology, risk factors, and prevention.

O'Neill, Siobhan and O'Connor, Rory C (2020) Suicide in Northern Ireland: epidemiology, risk factors, and prevention. The Lancet Psychiatry, 7, (6), pp. 538-546.

The rates of suicide and self-harm in Northern Ireland are high, and have increased from 143 registered suicides in 1996 to 313 in 2010 and 318 in 2015. This Review summarises the epidemiology of suicidal behaviour, as well as the evidence from a small number of studies that have identified risk factors associated with high suicide rates in Northern Ireland. These risk factors were mental illness, trauma, exposure to the conflict known as the Troubles, deprivation, relationship problems, employment difficulties, financial difficulties, being LGBT, childhood adversities, and alcohol or drug use. We highlight the key challenges and opportunities for suicide prevention, emphasising a so-called lifespan approach. More needs to be done to address the relationship between substance misuse and suicide. Future research and prevention efforts should also focus on the transgenerational effect of the conflict, youth suicide, suicide prevention in minority groups, and the criminal justice context. The provision of and access to suicide-specific psychosocial interventions need to be prioritised, more support for people in crisis is required, as well as interventions for mental illness. Protect Life 2, the national suicide prevention strategy, needs to be implemented in full. Given the legacy of conflict in Northern Ireland, all suicide prevention efforts should be trauma informed.

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