Rory O’Connor, Professor of Psychology at the University of Stirling, says that although there have been important advances in understanding the risk factors associated with suicide and self-harm in recent years “we still know little about what protects vulnerable people from risk of suicide”.
Professor O’Connor added: “It is vital that governments, charities and other research funding bodies make such work a priority so we can further understand why some people faced with the same life circumstances die by suicide and others do not.
“Despite the reduction of suicide and self-harm being major national and international priorities, we don’t know enough about which treatments are most effective in reducing suicide risk.
“If we are to achieve our goal of reducing suicide rates throughout the world, we have to redouble our efforts to develop innovative treatments to tackle this tragic personal and social problem.”
Professor O’Connor, who leads the Suicidal Behaviour Research Laboratory (SBRL) at Stirling, the leading suicide and self harm research group in Scotland, made the comments this week as part of a series of events held in the Western Isles of Scotland, to mark Suicide Prevention Week (10-15 September) and World Suicide Prevention Day (10 September).
Suicide is the biggest killer of men under 35 in the UK. In 2010, suicide rates were highest in those aged 45–74 at 17.7 per 100,000 for men and 6.0 per 100,000 for women. There were 4,231 suicides among men (17.0 per 100,000 population) and 1,377 suicides among women (5.3 per 100,000 population) in the UK during 2010. (Office for National Statistics)