Contrasting terrorist-related deaths with suicide trends over 34 years

Iain McGowan, Stephen Hamilton, Paul Miller, George Kernohan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Background : As Northern Ireland starts to recover from 30 years of terrorist violence, political focus has moved to address social issues incumbent in a landscape blighted by civil unrest. This paper appears to be the primary attempt to synthesize the most violent period of Ireland's history in terms of the actual number of premature and unnecessary deaths. Aim : The aim of this study was to examine the trends in suicide rates and terrorist-related homicide in Northern Ireland from 1966 to 1999 and to investigate any relationship between the two. Methods : The official suicide rates from the Reports of the Registrar Generals Office (1967 – 2000) were extrapolated from the total list of causes of death. The death figures were taken from the data published by McKittrick et al. (2000). Data was initially systematically listed. Cross-tabs were then undertaken to examine the number of suicides and deaths by gender and age. Where appropriate Pearson correlation co-efficient was used to analyse possible statistically significant relationships between variables. Results : Nearly 7000 people have died prematurely in Northern Ireland between 1966 and 1999. Males were more likely to die by both methods than females. The standardized rate of suicide falls in both genders after the age of 65 years. A highly significant inverse correlation ( p <0.01) was noted between the total number of suicides and homicides. A finding repeated in both genders. Conclusions : The “Troubles” may have had the effect of increasing social cohesion that protected individuals from suicide. Declaration of interest : None.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)399-405
JournalJournal of Mental Health
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 1 Aug 2005


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