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Suicide death and hospital-treated suicidal behaviour in asylum seekers in the Netherlands: a national registry-based study

DOI: 10.1186/1471-2458-11-484

Keywords: suicide, suicidal behaviour, migrants, asylum seekers, refugees

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We obtained data on cases of suicide and suicidal behaviour from all asylum seeker reception centres in the Netherlands (period 2002-2007, age 15+). The suicide death rates in this population and in subgroups by sex, age and region of origin were compared with the rate in the Dutch population; the rates of hospital-treated suicidal behaviour were compared with that in the population of The Hague using indirect age group standardization.The study included 35 suicide deaths and 290 cases of hospital-treated suicidal behaviour. The suicide death rate and the incidence of hospital-treated suicidal behaviour differed between subgroups by sex and region of origin. For male asylum seekers, the suicide death rate was higher than that of the Dutch population (N = 32; RR = 2.0, 95%CI 1.37-2.83). No difference was found between suicide mortality in female asylum seekers and in the female general population of the Netherlands (N = 3; RR = 0.73; 95%CI 0.15-2.07). The incidence of hospital-treated suicidal behaviour was high in comparison with the population of The Hague for males and females from Europe and the Middle East/South West Asia, and low for males and females from Africa. Health professionals knew about mental health problems prior to the suicidal behaviour for 80% of the hospital-treated suicidal behaviour cases in asylum seekers.In this study the suicide death rate was higher in male asylum seekers than in males in the reference population. The incidence of hospital-treated suicidal behaviour was higher in several subgroups of asylum seekers than that in the reference population. We conclude that measures to prevent suicide and suicidal behaviour among asylum seekers in the Netherlands are indicated.In 2008 an estimated 383 000 asylum applications were recorded in 51 Western countries, including most European countries, the USA and Canada [1]. Asylum seekers are people who have left their country of origin, applied for protection as a refugee in another country, and


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