Centre for Suicide Research launched


A new university research centre to investigate the causes and prevention of suicide and attempted suicide has been launched.

The Centre for Suicide Research in the Department of Psychiatry at the Warneford Hospital aims to increase knowledge of the causes of suicidal behaviour, collect evidence on strategies to reduce the number of deaths from suicide, and develop and evaluate treatment for people who are at risk of suicide or have attempted suicide.

Director of the Centre, Professor Keith Hawton, said: `The Centre will allow us to build on the work we have done in Oxford over many years. Our launch comes at a time of increasing focus on this issue, with both the UK Government and the World Health Organisation making suicide prevention a key part of their health strategies.'

There are estimated to be at least 500,000 suicides a year world-wide and approximately 6,000 a year in the UK, where there are now considerably more deaths from suicide than as a result of road traffic accidents. There are also approximately 170,000 cases of people in the UK each year presenting to hospital having attempted suicide—a figure which has risen substantially in recent years. Increasingly, cases of suicide and deliberate self- harm involve young people, many of them in their teens.

Alongside its own research programme, the Oxford Centre will provide training opportunities for research workers, advise national organisations including the Department of Health for England and Wales and The Samaritans, and work with other major research centres in the UK and around the world.

Oxford is the UK centre for a World Health Organisation/European Union multi-centre study of attempted suicide and deliberate self- harm, which began in 1989 and is being conducted in more than twenty centres throughout Europe.

Professor Hawton and his ten-strong team are also involved in a European study of suicide and self- harm in children and adolescents, and have established a group of international experts to conduct systematic reviews of research trials on treatment and prevention of suicidal behaviour. It is hoped this will inform prevention strategies on a world-wide basis.

The Centre was formally launched with a presentation to an audience of specialists in the field and members of collaborating organisations, on Wednesday 3 November.


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