Merete Nordentoft receives award from NOVO Nordic 2020

Professor Merete Nordentoft from DRISP and Copenhagen Research Center For Mental Health has received this year’s Award from Novo Nordic together with a professor at Aarhus University for their research on suicide and mortality in relation to schizophrenia and other mental disorders.

Twenty years ago, evidence-based knowledge on risks of suicide and o psychiatric comorbidity among people suffering from schizophrenia and bipolar disorders was rather limited. Professor Merete Nordentoft has together with Preben Bo Mortensen from Aarhus University helped change this. With their research on suicide and mortality among people with schizophrenia and other serious mental disorders, they have made significant contributions to the international understanding on prevention of suicide and severe mental disorders.

In recognition of this, the Novo Nordisk Fund this year chose to give the Novo Nordisk Prize 2020 to Merete Nordentoft and Preben Bo Mortensen.

Ascending Investigator for Trine Madsen

Trine Madsen from DRISP has recently received the ”Ascending Investigators Grant” from the Lundbeck Foundation to conduct the research project “Young People’s Risk of Suicide Attempt (YRSA).

The rate of suicide attempt in adolescents has been increasing for the last decades, especially in young girls. Suicide attempt is the best-established risk factor for subsequent death by suicide, therefore this increasing trend is alarming.


Trine Madsen from DRISP has recently received the ”Ascending Investigators Grant” from the Lundbeck Foundation to conduct the research project “Young People’s Risk of Suicide Attempt (YRSA).

The rate of suicide attempt in adolescents has been increasing for the last decades, especially in young girls. Suicide attempt is the best-established risk factor for subsequent death by suicide, therefore this increasing trend is alarming.

Reportedly, only up to 9-25% of those adolescents who attempt suicide are seen at somatic hospitals, implying that up to 90% of all teenagers in a crisis situation with a suicide attempt may have not received professional help for their suicidal behavior. The YRSA project aims to document prevalences and early risk factors for suicide attempt in both those seen at somatic hospitals for suicide attempt and in those who self-reported suicide attempt but do not seek somatic treatment. Further, the aim is to examine barriers and facilitators of seeking help from mental health services after a suicide attempt. The YRSA project, which combines self-reported data from the Danish National Birth Cohort with register-based data, are unique for this purpose.

The Ascending Investigators grant is given to established and talented scientists at Danish research institutions to further develop their careers and to make significant research contributions. It is an honor to receive a such prestigious award.

Read more about the project: [Link]

Trine Madsen get Nordentoft award 2020

Trine Madsen receives the award for her important contributions within register-based research on mental illnesses, infections, traumatic brain trauma and deployments to war zones as risk factors for suicide. She has, among others, demonstrated that the time after discharge from a psychiatric hospital in Denmark is a high-risk period for suicide, which ought to be targeted by interventions.

Trine Madsen is an international expert in trajectory analyses and has studied the development of suicidal thoughts among patients with bipolar disorder, depression disorders and schizophrenia in USA and Holland. She has also helped set up a large intervention study aimed at preventing suicide after discharge from a psychiatric hospital.

The Nordentoft Award was set up by the Association for Education and Research on Suicide Prevention to mark Professor Merete Nordentoft’s great contributions within suicide prevention research in Denmark. The objective of the award is to promote suicide prevention and to make the efforts within this field visible to a broader audience.

As both research and preventive efforts are important and needed disciplines to secure reductions in the numbers of suicide, the Nordentoft Award is every second year given to a practitioner and in other years to a researcher.

DRISP-seminar: Psychosocial and digital suicide prevention

Date: February 14th, 2020
Time: 9.30-12.15
Stream of DRISP seminar:


(introduktion begynder efter 8 minutter)


Welcome by Prof. Merete Nordentoft, Danish Research Institute for Suicide Prevention

Digital phenotyping and suicide prevention by Prof. Heleen Riper, Section of Clinical Psychology, Vrije University Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Psychosocial interventions for suicide prevention by Prof. Ad Kerkhof, Vrije University Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Digital interventions for youth with suicidal ideation or self-harm by Prof. Sarah Hetrick, Department of Psychological Medicine, University of Auckland, New Zealand

People with sleep disorders and rates of suicide

People who have a history of sleep disorders and bad quality of sleep often tend to have an elevated risk of psychiatric challenges in conjunction with the sleep disorders, which might lead to suicidal ideation or behaviour. So far, the evidence base has been limited to smaller studies, and the current study will be one of few population-based cohort studies examining the association between sleep disorders and suicide. The study is based on Danish register data.

The study is supported by a research trainee grant from the Lundbeck Foundation.

DRISP: Nikolaj Kjær Høier, Trine Madsen, Merete Nordentoft, Annette Erlangsen


  • Adam Spira, PhD, Department of Mental Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of PublicHealth, Baltimore, USA.
  • Prof Keith Hawton, Centre for Suicide Research, University of Oxford

Treatment of bipolar disorder and risk of suicide

Bipolar disorder is linked to an increased risk of suicide and is treated with a range of different drugs. Lithium has been suggested to be superior to other drugs in preventing suicide by a number of RCTs. The study population in these studies has, however, been restricted and findings might not be representative of all persons with bipolar disorder. Therefore, naturalistic studies with larger sample sizes are needed. This study will use Danish National registers to compare treatment effects of lithium to that of other moodstabilisers and antipsychotics.

The study is supported by the Lundbeck Foundation.

DRISP: Cecilie Aalling, Merete Nordentoft, Annette Erlangsen


  • Prof Keith Hawton, Centre for Suicide Research, University of Oxford
  • Michael Eriksen Benros, Psykiatrisk Center København

PhD defense in DRISP

On February 14, 2020, Charlotte Mühlmann successfully defended her PhD on “Internet-based self-help therapy for individuals with suicidal ideation.” Opponents were: prof. Sarah Hetrick, Department of Psychological Medicine, University of Auckland, New Zealand and prof. Heleen Riper, Section of Clinical Psychology, Vrije University Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Well done, Charlotte!

Science: Suicide—turning the tide

As one of the few countries in the world, Denmark has secured a radical decline in the suicide rate over the last 40 years. Historically, the Danish suicide rate was among the highest in the world but the rate began declining in 1980 where 38 suicide deaths per 100,000 inhabitants were counted until 2007 where it had reached a level of 11 suicide deaths per 100,000; a reduction to one third of its originally level. The recipe for this success story is listed in SCIENCE.

In the same issue, a series of articles lay out recent and on-going achievements in suicide prevention.


WHO National Suicide prevention strategies

WHO has published a new report on “National suicide prevention strategies: progress, examples and indicators”

National suicide prevention strategies are essential for elevating suicide prevention on the political agenda. A national strategy and associated action plan are necessary to push forward the implementation of suicide prevention. Without these, efforts are likely to abate and suicide prevention will remain neglected. This document aims to serve as a resource and inspire governments and policy-makers to establish their own national suicide prevention strategy. Examples from each WHO Region show the variety of approaches undertaken and the indicators that have been chosen. The elements for developing, implementing and evaluating a national suicide prevention strategy are described and actions to overcome common barriers are presented.

Netflix series ’13 Reasons why’

A new American study has found that the suicide rate among American boys aged 10-17 years increased with 29% in the months after the release of the Netflix series ’13 Reasons why’ i 2017 in the US. International research findings have previously shown that news reports and movies where suicidal behavior is presented might inspire others, particularly vulnerable youngsters. WHO has published guidelines for media reports of suicidal behavior (

Britt Morthorst fro DRISP commented upon the American findings for DR News.

DRISP student receive prize

Every year an undergraduate in medical science receives Psykiatriprisen (The Psychiatry Price), which is awarded for research in the psychiatric field. This year, Cecilie Aalling, a research year student i DRISP, participated with her paper on ‘Suicidal behaviour among persons with ADHD: A nationwide register-based study’. In the paper Cecilie compared persons with an ADHD diagnosis to the remaining population from 1995-2014 in order to find out whether this group had higher suicide rates. Furthermore, she calculated suicide rates for subgroups according to parents’ psychiatric diagnose, criminal conduct and psychiatric comorbidity. Cecilie received 3. place for this paper and she is very happy and proud.

Cause-specific life years lost among persons with mental disorders

The aim was to quantify the life years lost with respect to cause of death and differences over time between people with and without mental disorders.
This study noted a difference of 10.2 and 7.3 excess life years lost for males and females with mental disorders, respectively. While the overall excess in life years lost between those with and without mental disorders did not change during 1995-2014 However, the excess suicide mortality among persons with mental disorders declined over this period .

The study is published in Lancet Psychiatry.

DRISP: Annette Erlangsen, Merete Nordentoft


  • Per Kragh Andersen, PhD, DMSc, Section of Biostatistics, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Thomas Munk Laursen, PhD, Centre for Integrated Register-based Research (CIRRAU), Aarhus University, Denmark
  • Anita Toender, Centre for Integrated Register-based Research (CIRRAU), Aarhus University, Denmark
  • Vladimir Canudas Romo, PhD, Max-Planck Odense Center on the Biodemography of Aging, Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Biodemography, University of Southern Denmark, Denmark

Heart diseases and suicide

Approximately, 11% of Europeans suffer from cardiovascular diseases. Although somatic disorders are linked to suicidal behavior, updated studies on heart diseases and suicide are needed. This study examines whether individuals diagnosed with cardiovascular diseases have higher suicide rates than individuals without cardiovascular diseases. Danish register data for
the period 1980-2016 was used for the analyses.
Several specific disorders, such as heart failure, cardiomyopathy, and acute myocardial infarction were found to be associated with elevated rates of suicide. Particularly, cardiac arrest with successful resuscitation was linked to a 4-fold higher suicide rate. Additionally, the
first time after diagnosis was associated with higher suicide rates. The results underscore the importance of being attentive towards psychological distress in individuals with heart disease.

Link to study:


  • Benjamin Drejer Petersen, University of Southern Denmark
  • Elsebeth Stenager, University of Southern Denmark

Autism spectrum disorders and suicidal behaviour

Approximately 1% of the population suffer from autism spectrum disorders, which often have their onset during childhood and affect the socialisation of the child. Not much is know about the predictors for suicidal behaviour in this group. The aim of this study is to identify social and disease-related predictors of suicidal behaviour among people with autism.

The project has received support from the Danish Health Foundation.

DRISP: Annette Erlangsen, Cecilie Aaling, Merete Nordentoft


  • Kairi Kõlves, Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention, Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia
  • Stephen James Wood, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia

Risk for suicide attempt in the offspring of parents with suicide attempt.

In this study we use data from Danish, nationwide registers to investigate risk of suicide attempt in individuals whose parents have attempted suicide. Results show that parental suicide attempt is associated with a 3-fold increased risk of suicide attempt in the offspring. Risks are highest if the parent attempted suicide during early childhood of the offspring. Risks were slightly higher for children of mothers than fathers with suicide attempt. Suicide attempt in a stepparent was associated with a 1,7 fold risk of suicide attempt in the stepchild. Analyses are adjusted for important socioeconomic confounders.

DRISP: Anne RanningAnnette ErlangsenTrine Madsen, Merete Nordentoft


  • Center for Register-based Research