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Suicide among immigrants in Europe-a systematic literature review

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  • Jacob Spallek
  • Anna Reeske
  • Marie Norredam
  • Signe Smith Nielsen
  • Jessica Lehnhardt
  • Oliver Razum
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BACKGROUND: Concerns about increased suicide risk among immigrants to European countries have been raised. We review the scientific literature on differences in suicide among immigrants compared with the majority populations in Europe's major immigration countries.

METHODS: We searched the databases PubMed and PsycINFO for peer-reviewed epidemiological studies published in 1990-2011, which compared suicide risks of adult immigrant groups with the risks of the majority population in European countries. Hits were screened by two researchers.

RESULTS:: We included 24 studies in the review. No generalizable pattern of suicide among immigrants was found. Immigrants from countries in which suicide risks are particularly high, i.e. countries in Northern and Eastern Europe, experienced higher suicide rates relative to groups without migration background. Gender and age differences were observed. Young female immigrants from Turkey, East Africa and South Asia are a risk group.

CONCLUSION: Immigrants 'bring along' their suicide risk, at least for the initial period they spend in the immigration country. Health-care planners and providers need to be aware of this 'imported risks'. However, most immigrant groups do not have an increased suicide risk relative to the local-born population; some may even experience substantially lower risks.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean journal of public health
Volume25
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)63 - 71
ISSN1210-7778
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Bibliographical note

European Journal of Public HealthVolume 25, Issue 1Pp. 63 - 71

ID: 44865950