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New research carried out by the University of Ulster demonstrates for the first time, a direct link between suicidal behaviour in Northern Ireland and having experienced traumatic and conflict related events.

The findings are based on extensive data from the university’s major study of the population’s mental health, part of the World Health Organisation’s World Mental Health Survey Initiative. As part of this research the University of Ulster carried out detailed analysis of suicidal thoughts, plans and attempts in a sample of over 4000 people.

Lead author of the paper, Professor Siobhan O’Neill from the Bamford Centre for Mental Health and Wellbeing at the university’s Magee Campus said:

“This is the first time evidence clearly demonstrating a trend of suicidal behaviour in people who have suffered, or witnessed, a traumatic, conflict related event has been found. The research also identifies lower levels of suicide attempts in this group, suggesting more worryingly, that this group may be more likely to actually take their own life on the first attempt.

“Our previous research has already shown that people who have been affected by the conflict have more severe and long lasting mental disorders. This new research is hugely significant because it demonstrates a new link between conflict and thinking about suicide.

“These University of Ulster findings are important and valuable as they can now help to shape and enhance the support available to vulnerable people, ensure healthcare providers are aware of new risk patterns, can recognise behaviour patterns and identify those at highest risk.”

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