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 and DRISP – an analysis of the Eastern Mediterranean Region

DRISP has contributed to the international work of suicide prevention. As a consultant for WHO, Annette Erlangsen has conducted a situation analysis of suicide and attempted suicide in WHO’s Eastern Mediterranean Region (WHO EMRO) from 2000 to 2020. WHO EMRO consists of the countries: Afghanistan, Bahrain, Djibouti, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, West Bank and Gaza, and Yemen.

The analysis found that:

  1. In more than half of the studied countries, data on suicide was either insufficient or of poor quality, making it challenging to monitor the incidence of suicide.
  2. From 2000 to 2019, there was a 7.6% decrease in the suicide rate in the region, primarily among women.
  3. In more than half of the countries, suicide is still considered a criminal act. This is problematic as it can potentially imply that individuals at risk of suicide might not seek help.

The situational analysis can be found here:

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.

Traumatic brain injury tied to increased risk of suicide

People who have traumatic brain injuries may be nearly twice as likely to die by suicide as individuals who don’t have a history of injuries like concussions and skull fractures, a large Danish study suggests.

Researchers examined data on more than 7.4 million people aged 10 years and older living in Denmark from 1980 to 2014. During this period, 567,823 people, or 7.6 percent, had received treatment for a traumatic brain injury. See the links below.

Internationale media
Washington Post
ABC News
The Telegraph (britisk medie)

National partnership for suicide prevention

Danish Research Institute for Suicide Prevention (DRISP) did the 8 sep. 2018 join the new National Partnership for Suicide Prevention. In total, 22 organisations have committed to collaborate with the purpose of promoting suicide prevention in Denmark. The date for the formal start of the partnership coincides with the WHO World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10th, which is marked by various events throughout the country. “We are pleased to finally have a national partnership for suicide prevention. There has not been a decline observed in suicide rate over the last 15 years – it is time to make a change through a coordinated and goal-oriented effort to prevent suicidal behaviours” says program leader Annette Erlangsen, DRISP. “Internationally, we have a substantial body of evidence on effective strategies for prevention. DRISP is eager to establish evidence-based knowledge on effective measures with a focus on implementation”. DRISP has received funding to update the knowledge stand on risk predictors for suicide. In addition, Merete Nordentoft who is a professor in psychiatry and employed at Mental Health Centre Copenhagen has recently received 18 mill DKK from the Danish Ministry of Health (‘SATS-pulje’) to implement a better follow-up on patients discharged/transferred from/between psychiatric care providers. “It is extremely important to examine whether such efforts have an actual effect so that we know whether it makes sense to implement them nationally” Merete Nordentoft explains.

New International Research on Suicide Prevention

Danish Research Institute for Suicide Prevention (DRISP) disseminate international research-based knowledge directly to professionals and others interested in suicide prevention.

Each month we will summarize and comment on a recently published international study. The summaries will be in Danish. The purpose of the dissemination is to inform on international directions and important new findings. If you are interested in receiving 1-2 emails on a monthly basis on suicide prevention, please send an email to: It is possible to unsubscribe from the list at any time.

Funding for the SAFE project

DRISP at the Capital Region has received 18 million DK kr. from the Danish Ministry of Health to the implementation of the SAFE project. The purpose of the SAFE project is to test whether a more comprehensive and closer follow-up after discharge from a psychiatric hospitalization can significantly reduce the risk of suicidal behavior in the first half year after discharge, which is a period of high suicide risk.
In the project, we will hire 17 clinically working project staff as additional capacity to implement the SAFE project in the already existing clinical organization (emergency teams, district psychiatry, OP and OPUS teams and at the Competence Center for Suicide Prevention). This additional capacity to ensure that the procedures on discharge from psychiatric hospitalization are systematized and improved. Specifically, procedures should be improved and systematized by implementing the following:
1. Establish routines for personal contact with the following outpatient unit before the patient is discharged.
2. Secure outpatient contact primarily at home visits within the first week after discharge.
3. Invite relatives to the patient to discharge meeting and/or the home visit.

The SAFE project are being implemented and tested at the Psychiatric Center Copenhagen in the period 2018-2020. In a scientific evaluation of the SAFE project, we have planned an experimental design where patients discharged from the Psychiatric Center Copenhagen are compared relative to the proportion of suicidal behavior in the first half year after discharge with patients discharged from other psychiatric centers in the Capital Region of Denmark. The comparison group is selected using the propensity score matching technique to ensure that the control group is as comparable as possible with regard to known risk factors  of suicidal behavior.