Published Friday, 04 October 2013
The study by Professor Siobhan O'Neill and Dr Colette Corry draws on data from the NI Coroners' files and is the first ever detailed analysis of deaths by suicide in Northern Ireland from 1995.
It found suicide rates are similar across all the middle-age cohorts, with rising rates among the over 70s.
More than two thirds of those who died by suicide had a recorded mental illness, while 59% had a recorded physical illness.
The study demonstrates that 78% of the deceased had experienced relationship difficulties or a breakup in the period prior to death.
Financial crisis was recorded in 13% of cases and employment related problems in 12%.
In around a quarter of deaths, the illness or death of a relative or friend was noted.
Academics believe the research will have important implications for politicians, policy makers and health care providers.
Professor O'Neill, from the Bamford Centre for Mental Health and Well-being at the University's Magee campus, said: "This study provides us with the most detailed information to date, upon which to base future suicide prevention initiatives in Northern Ireland. "
Professor O'Neill said ways needed to be found to help people of all ages, but particularly men, to seek help and support for mental health problems during stressful life events.
"Suicide prevention is not simply a matter for health care providers," she said.
"Politicians and policy makers all need to remain cognisant of the impact of their social policies on mental health and suicide. Suicide prevention is everyone's responsibility."
Professor Brendan Bunting, the study's principal investigator, said the research, along with other recent evidence, makes a compelling case for a more effective strategy for health and service provision.
The initial findings were presented at the International Association for Suicide Prevention conference in Oslo earlier this month. Further details will be presented next week in Londonderry.
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