Suicidal behaviour and mental health disorders among students commencing college.

Caoimhe Ward, Margaret Mc Lafferty, Jonathon McLaughlin, Rachel Mc Hugh, Louise McBride, John Brady, AJ Bjourson, CP Walsh, Siobhan O'Neill, EK Murray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The increase in psychological disorders and suicidal behaviour in students is a reason for growing concern. Some may start university with pre-existing problems, while others develop problems during this time. It is important to evaluate mental health and wellbeing early, identifying those at risk. The aim of this study was to compare mental health problems and help-seeking behaviour between students in Northern Ireland (NI) and the Republic of Ireland (ROI). Whilst geographically proximate, the institutions span a cross-border region with distinct education and healthcare systems. First-year undergraduate students (n=1828) were recruited in September 2019 as part of the World Mental Health International College Student Initiative. Suicidal behaviour, mental health and substance disorders were investigated using the World Mental Health- Composite International Diagnostic Interview. Prevalence of disorders was high, with more ROI students experiencing problems than NI students. Students were significantly more likely to experience mental health problems if they were female (p<0.001), non-heterosexual (p<0.0001), and over the age of 21 (p<0.0001). These findings show that many students are starting university with high levels of psychopathology and suicidal behaviour, highlighting the importance of early intervention which may need to be tailored to different student populations.
Original languageEnglish
Article number114314
Number of pages23
JournalPsychiatry research
Early online date27 Nov 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Nov 2021


  • student mental health
  • help-seeking
  • depression
  • suicidal behaviour


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