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Suicide risk among refugees compared with non-refugee migrants and the Swedish-born majority population

Hollander, A-C; Pitman, A; Sjöqvist, H; Lewis, G; Magnusson, C; Kirkbride, JB; Dalman, C; (2019) Suicide risk among refugees compared with non-refugee migrants and the Swedish-born majority population. British Journal of Psychiatry 10.1192/bjp.2019.220. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: It has been hypothesised that refugees have an increased risk of suicide. AIMS: To investigate whether risk of suicide is higher among refugees compared with non-refugee migrants from the same areas of origin and with the Swedish-born population, and to examine whether suicide rates among migrants converge to the Swedish-born population over time. METHOD: A population-based cohort design using linked national registers to follow 1 457 898 people born between 1 January 1970 and 31 December 1984, classified by migrant status as refugees, non-refugee migrants or Swedish-born. Participants were followed from their 16th birthday or date of arrival in Sweden until death, emigration or 31 December 2015, whichever came first. Cox regression models estimated adjusted hazard ratios for suicide by migrant status, controlling for age, gender, region of origin and income. RESULTS: There were no significant differences in suicide risk between refugee and non-refugee migrants (hazard ratio 1.28, 95% CI 0.93-1.76) and both groups had a lower risk of suicide than Swedish born. During their first 5 years in Sweden no migrants died by suicide; however, after 21-31 years their suicide risk was equivalent to the Swedish-born population (hazard ratio 0.94, 95% CI 0.79-1.22). After adjustment for income this risk was significantly lower for migrants than the Swedish-born population. CONCLUSIONS: Being a refugee was not an additional risk factor for suicide. Our findings regarding temporal changes in suicide risk suggest that acculturation and socioeconomic deprivation may account for a convergence of suicide risk between migrants and the host population over time. DECLARATION OF INTEREST: None.

Type: Article
Title: Suicide risk among refugees compared with non-refugee migrants and the Swedish-born majority population
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1192/bjp.2019.220
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1192/bjp.2019.220
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Royal College of Psychiatrists 2019. This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Keywords: Suicide, epidemiology, mortality, social deprivation, transcultural psychiatry
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Division of Psychiatry
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10083503
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