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A new review by researchers in the Department of Psychiatry of previous studies into suicide worldwide has highlighted the effects of individual and environmental risk factors over a lifetime.

Image of a crowd of people

• Around 800,000 people die by suicide each year

• Suicide accounts for the most deaths globally in people between the ages of 15-24 

• Risk factors change throughout lifetime

A review of studies into suicide risk factors at different stages of peoples’ lives, as well as of the effectiveness of assessment and treatment approaches, has found that while some factors such as genetics and family history play a part in suicide risk throughout life, other factors including clinical depression, substance misuse, lack of social support and economic factors become stronger after adolescence.

Publishing in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), the researchers from the University of Oxford and the Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, found that among individual risk factors for suicide, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia-spectrum disorders, substance use disorders, epilepsy, and traumatic brain injury each increases the odds of completed suicide by a factor of more than 3 during the course of a lifetime.

The researchers looked at the effectiveness of interventions at a population level to target high-risk groups or individuals, such as restricting access to poisons or firearms, but found that these measures vary in effectiveness by country and culture.

Read more (University of Oxford website)

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