DRISP: Anne Ranning, Annette Erlangsen, Trine Madsen, Merete Nordentoft
- Center for Register-based Research
DRISP: Anne Ranning, Annette Erlangsen, Trine Madsen, Merete Nordentoft
Each year, there are approximately 11,000 suicide attempts in Denmark, mainly among young people under the age of 25. Clinicians who provide support to young people after suicide attempt are often consulted by the young person’s parents who are keen to support their child. To provide better information to parents, DRISP has developed a website for this target group and in collaboration with parents with lived experiences. This website is now testing to determine whether parents find it useful. In connection with the project, several qualitative studies have been conducted, which are described here below.
Study 1: Existing evidence regarding the experiences of relatives caring for people with suicide attempts was reviewed. A total of 12 studies on the subject were included and a meta-ethnographic synthesis was conducted. The results showed that relatives of people with suicide attempts often pass through four unique phases, which each represent different perspectives and emotions. It was also found that interaction with other relatives who experienced comparable challenges made it easier for relatives to pass through these phases and helped them to find themselves in new and challenging situations.
The study can be found here:
Study 2: Interviews were conducted with 21 Danish parents of children with suicidal behavior. The results of the study showed that parents’ perceived that their identity was affected by their children’s suicidal acts. The perceived identity of the parents passed through up to three interrelated phases. Each phase reflected a different perspective of their identity and was developed in social interaction with other people. It was also found that not all parents were able to re-establish their parenting agency.
This study can be found here: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S002074892030279
People with mental illness have an increased risk of suicide. Previous Danish studies have shown that the risk is elevated in the period shortly after admission and especially after discharge from psychiatric hospital. Trine Madsen from DRISP has in an updated analyses investigated whether this is still the case or whether the recent decades of efforts in the field have led to an improved situation for people with mental vulnerability.
Register data for the entire Danish population aged 15 years or older in the period 1995-2016 were included in the analysis.
Men and women who were in inpatient treatment for a psychiatric disorder had a suicide rate of 237 and 322 per 100,000, respectively, compared to men and women who had never been inpatients. In the first week after discharge, the suicide rate was 225 and 425 times higher for men and women, respectively, when compared to those who had never been admitted. About 6% of all suicides amongst males and 13% amongst females occurred during the first week of a psychiatric admission or discharge. The study also showed that the suicide rate amongst admitted patients fell by 2.5% per year until 2009, after which the rate rose by 7.5% per year.
The study’s conclusion was that – despite falling suicide rates – the period around admission and discharge from a psychiatric hospital is still associated with an extremely high risk of death by suicide.
You can find the study here: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/acps.13221
Different patient groups are seen across psychiatric sectors and it is relevant to know which groups are at imminent risk of suicide. In this project, the risk of suicide is examined according to the highest level of psychiatric service received. The level will be graded according to severity as well as by type of contact, such as psychiatric admission, psychiatric ER visit, psychiatric outpatient, psychiatric medicine.
DRISP: Trine Madsen, Merete Nordentoft, Annette Erlangsen
The Borrelia bacterium, which exists in ticks, can develop into an infectious disease in humans when bitten. This disease is known as lyme disease (or Lyme Borreliosis) Infections have previously been associated with an increased risk of suicidal behavior. Trine Madsen from DRISP has, in collaboration with colleagues, investigated whether Lyme Borreliosis was linked to increased prevalence of psychiatric diseases and suicidal behavior.
Using register data for all persons living in Denmark from 1994 to 2016 (n=6,945,837), patients diagnosed with Lyme Borreliosis were identified based on hospital diagnoses. Their risk of developing psychiatric diseases and suicidal behavior was analyzed.
The results showed that persons who developed Lyme Borreliosis (i.e., an infection after a tick bite) had a 1.3-fold higher rate of psychiatric diseases, as well as a 2-fold higher rate of suicide attempts and a 1.75-fold higher suicide rate when compared to the background population. The highest risk of developing a psychiatric disease was observed within the first 6 months after persons developed Lyme Borreliosis. If the person had had multiple incidents of Lyme Borreliosis, this was associated with an increasing risk of suicide attempts.
In conclusion, the study showed that persons diagnosed with Lyme Borreliosis at Danish hospitals have an increased prevalence of psychiatric diseases, suicide attempts and suicide.
You can find the study here: https://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/doi/10.1176/appi.ajp.2021.20091347
Traumatizing events such as exposure to war can affect mental health. After World War I, the term “shell shock” was used to describe the shock effect that individuals who experienced the war may suffer. Although there is an increased awareness of adverse effects for deployed soldiers, stories of individual events, which seem to question the support that provided to veteran soldiers, often find their way to media reports.
To gain deeper insights into the stress experienced by deployed combat soldiers, DRISP has conducted a research project together with the Danish Veteran Center.
The study included more than 12,000 Danish veterans deployed on an international mission in the years 1997-2016 and who participated in a questionnaire survey after returning home. In the survey, they were asked about the level of combat exposure and experiences of the consequences of war. Figures from national registers administered by Statistics Denmark and the Danish Health Authority showed that a total of 83 veterans had had a suicide attempt after returning home. The findings of the study showed that veterans with a higher level of combat exposure have an 8% higher risk of suicide attempt after returning home compared to veterans with a lower level of combat exposure. The findings also confirmed that the increased risk of suicide attempt applied to veterans who, in addition to combat exposure, had symptoms of PTSD and/or depression. No association was found between having witnessed the consequences of war and suicide attempt.
The results point to the importance of attention towards those who have been exposed to combat and subsequently develop PTSD or depression, as this group were at greater risk of later suicide attempt.
You can find the study here: https://www.psychiatrist.com/jcp/trauma/combat-exposure-risk-suicide-attempt-danish-army-military-personnel/
We found that the risk of suicide is almost twice as high in people who experienced a TBI compared with people who had no TBI records. The risk was especially high in the first period after the TBI incident and
The Telegraph (
The study has been published in JAMA.
DRISP: Trine Madsen, Merete Nordentoft & Annette Erlangsen
International research has shown an increased suicide rate among people in prison. However, studies have yet to address age structural differences. In this
Findings from the study
Link to study
It is estimated that between 50-60% of the people who call helplines for suicide prevention are in an acute crisis, and up to 56% have had a previous suicide attempt. It is therefore important to answer these calls.
The counselors of the Danish telephone helpline for suicide prevention, “Livslinien,” answer more than 14,000 calls per year. However, many calls still go unanswered. DRISP is collaborating with the Danish telephone helpline in an ongoing research project to investigate how many calls are answered and at what times of day the peaks.
In a first research project, the number of calls and characteristics of the people who called Livslinien were investigated. Data on all answered calls in the period 2018-2019 were analyzed. The data material consisted of records that counselors make after each counseling session and included socio-demographic information as well as an assessment of the person’s suicide risk.
Ove a 2-year period, a total of 42,393 calls were answered. In more than half of all calls, the person seeking counseling was evaluated to be at risk of suicide – and in 37% of all calls, the person was considered to be at high risk of suicide.
The study also showed that women, younger people, those with a history of previous suicide attempts, and those who reported problems related to self-harm, mental illness, sexual abuse, substance abuse, and physical health problems were more likely to be considered at risk of suicide, as evaluated by counselors.
The results of the study highlight the importance of helplines for suicide prevention and the need to ensure that these are adequately staffed in order to meet the demand.
You can read the study here: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13811118.2022.2084005
The project has received funding from the Suicide Prevention Partnership, the Danish Health Authority.
DRISP: Annette Erlangsen
Losing a loved one to suicide can be a traumatic and stressful experience, and studies show that bereaved by suicide themselves have an increased risk of stress-related illnesses and suicidal behavior. To determine the burden related to being bereaved, Annette Erlangsen at DRISP is involved in an international research project with researchers from University College London.
The study examined register data on 32,248 individuals living in Denmark who died by suicide in Denmark between 1980 and 2016, as well as identifying their relatives in the form of parents, children, siblings, and partners.
Having lost a loved one to suicide was associated with a 2.8 times higher risk of suicide compared to people who had not lost a loved one. The study also showed that 0.69% of all suicides in Denmark could be prevented if all factors that increase the risk of suicide among relatives of people who have died by suicide could be addressed. This corresponds to 60% of suicides among bereaved by suicide.
Bereaved by suicide have an increased risk of developing suicidal behavior themselves, and, although these suicides only account for a relatively small proportion of the total number of suicides, it is important to provide support to this group.
The project has received funding from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. You can find the study here: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/acps.13493
DRISP: Annette Erlangsen
Every year about 600 suicide deaths and 11,000 suicide attempts are recorded in Denmark.
The project has received support from the Partnership for Suicide Prevention, Danish Health Authority
DRISP: Annette Erlangsen
Neurological disorders have severe impacts on people’s lives in terms of both disability and dependency and have been linked to suicide. Yet, a comprehensive overview was lacking. This study examined whether people with specific neurological disorders die by suicide more often than other people. The study was based on the register data covering the entire population of Denmark during 1980-2016.
The findings from study, which was published in JAMA, shows that people with neurological disorders have a 75% higher suicide rate than people with no neurological disorders. Still, suicide deaths are rare events. While the suicide rate for the general population was around 20 per 100,000, the rate for people with neurological disorders is around 40 per 100,000 person-years. One out of 150 persons diagnosed with a neurological disorder dies by suicide. For severe neurological diseases, such as Huntington’s, one out of 61 diagnosed went on to die by suicide. This study is the most comprehensive assessment of neurological disorders’ link to suicide conducted to date.
The study shows that people who have been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or Huntington’s disease have a particular high risks, as the suicide rate associated with these disorders is 4-5 times higher than in the general population. People who have been exposed to traumatic brain injury, multiple sclerosis, or epilepsy have a suicide rate, which is double the level of the one found among those with no such disorders.
People with dementia were found to have a 2-3 time higher suicide rate during the first three months after being diagnosed. On the other hand, people who had been diagnosed with dementia more than a year ago were found to have a lower suicide rate than the general population.
– This is the first time we have examined this many different neurological disorders to gain a more detailed understanding of when risk of suicide is pronounced. These insights can help us shape dedicated preventive effort says Dr. Annette Erlangsen, lead author and senior researcher at Danish Research Institute for Suicide Prevention (DRISP). The project has received support from the Psychiatric Research Foundation, Region of Southern Denmark.
Link to study:
Paracetamol is reported to be the most frequently used drug for overdoses in European countries.
The method applied was a nationwide register study investigating the trend in hospital admissions for non-opioid analgesic poisonings before and after the implementation of age and pack size restriction in Denmark in 2011 and 2013, respectively. The trend in rates of severe poisonings was also investigated using nationwide laboratory data as blood tests taken routinely during admission in the period 2011-2013. After the age and the pack size
We concluded that a significant reduction in trends of poisoning by non-opioid analgesics treated in hospitals and fewer severe poisonings was observed after the legislative changes in Denmark.
Link to the study: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S016503271932957X
The project in the media
DRISP: Britt Morthorst
Workplace bullying can be considered a stressful event, but there is little knowledge about its association with suicidal behavior. The aim of this research project was to investigate whether people who had experienced workplace bullying had a higher risk of suicidal behavior than people who had not been exposed to it.
In several large Danish surveys, more than 98,000 employees had been asked about experiences of workplace bullying. These data were linked to registry data, so that researchers could examine how many of the respondents were recorded with suicidal behavior over the subsequent 10 years from 2004-2014. The findings showed that over 10% of the people who had reported experienced workplace bullying. People who had been exposed to workplace bullying had a 1.6 times higher risk of suicidal behavior when compared to those who had not experienced bullying. The study was one of the few, which have documented this association in data where it could be determined that the bullying had been reported prior to the observed suicidal behavior.
The project has received funding from the Psychiatric Research Foundation, Region of Southern Denmark.
You can find the study here: https://www.sjweh.fi/article/4034
DRISP: Annette Erlangsen
Abuse of children and youth is an important problem to emphasize and prevent. This project conducts a large, representative,
The project has received support from the Danish Health Care Foundation.