Suicide in Northern Ireland: epidemiology, risk factors, and prevention

Siobhan O'Neill, Rory O'Connor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)
12 Downloads (Pure)


The rates of suicide and self-harm in Northern Ireland are high, and have increased from 143 registered suicides in 1996 to 313 in 2010 and 318 in 2015. This Review summarises the epidemiology of suicidal behaviour, as well as the evidence from a small number of studies that have identified risk factors associated with high suicide rates in Northern Ireland. These risk factors were mental illness, trauma, exposure to the conflict known as the Troubles, deprivation, relationship problems, employment difficulties, financial difficulties, being LGBT, childhood adversities, and alcohol or drug use. We highlight the key challenges and opportunities for suicide prevention, emphasising a so-called lifespan approach. More needs to be done to address the relationship between substance misuse and suicide. Future research and prevention efforts should also focus on the transgenerational effect of the conflict, youth suicide, suicide prevention in minority groups, and the criminal justice context. The provision of and access to suicide-specific psychosocial interventions need to be prioritised, more support for people in crisis is required, as well as interventions for mental illness. Protect Life 2, the national suicide prevention strategy, needs to be implemented in full. Given the legacy of conflict in Northern Ireland, all suicide prevention efforts should be trauma informed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)538-546
Number of pages9
JournalLancet Psychiatry
Issue number6
Early online date29 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2020


  • suicide prevention
  • self harm

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Suicide in Northern Ireland: epidemiology, risk factors, and prevention'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Activities

    • 3 Invited talk
    • 1 Participating in a conference, workshop, ...
    • 1 Membership of board
    • 1 Oral presentation

    British Isles Suicide Prevention meeting, Oxford 2019

    Siobhan O'Neill (Invited speaker)

    Oct 2019

    Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentation

    4th Suicide and Self-Harm Early and Mid-Career Researchers’ Forum (EMCR 2019)

    Siobhan O'Neill (Keynote speaker)

    7 Jun 2019

    Activity: Talk or presentationInvited talk

    Research Output

    • 1 Citations
    • 8 Article
    • 1 Book

    Characteristics of Lifeline, crisis line, service users who have died by suicide

    Ramsey, C., Ennis, E. & O'Neill, SM., 30 Jun 2019, In : Suicide and Life Threatening Behavior. 49, 3, p. 777-788 12 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Open Access
  • 2 Citations (Scopus)

    Coping, stress, and negative childhood experiences: The link to psychopathology, self-harm, and suicidal behavior

    Mc Lafferty, M., Armour, C., Bunting, B., Ennis, E., Lapsley, C., Murray, EK. & O'Neill, S., 1 Sep 2019, In : PsyCh Journal. 8, 3, p. 293-306 14 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Open Access
  • 1 Citation (Scopus)
    2 Downloads (Pure)

    Readiness to change and barriers to treatment seeking in college students with a mental disorder

    Ennis, E., McLafferty, M., Murray, EK., Lapsley, C., Bjourson, AJ., Armour, C., Bunting, B., Murphy, SD. & O'Neill, S., 1 Jun 2019, In : Journal of Affective Disorders. 252, p. 428-434 7 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Open Access
  • 4 Citations (Scopus)
    16 Downloads (Pure)

    Cite this