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Sahlgrenska Suicide Studies

Research group

Short description

Our research group studies suicidal behavior over the lifecycle with a special focus on older adults.

Our research

Our research group studies suicidality and depression during the life course with a special focus on older adults. We know that older adults have high suicide rates, especially older men who have the highest suicide rates compared to all other age groups. Our research aims are to try to explain how different factors in people's lives interact to develop suicidal behavior and depression and other mental disorders. This can help counteract the clichés that suicide among older adults is an expression of "normal" aging.

Suicidality is not only a psychiatric phenomenon and therefore our research is conducted in multidisciplinary collaborations. We study biological, psychosocial, somatic, psychological and pharmacological factors and their significance for suicidality and mental illness.  In clinical studies, we identify factors that affect the prognosis after suicide attempts, what is important for recovery and how suicide risk is managed within the healthcare system.

Our research group works closely with the Department of Psychology (GU) and is part of AgeCap, GU’s Center for Aging and Health. We have national collaborations with research groups in Stockholm, Lund, Örebro and Umeå, and numerous international collaborations. In addition, we collaborate to a large extent with Sahlgrenska University Hospital and with Primary Care in Gothenburg, as well as with Older Adult Services in the Västra Götaland region and Halland county.

Research approaches

Population-based studies:

  • National register studies
  • Multidisciplinary population studies, for example the Prospective Population Study of Women in Gothenburg, the H70 studies and Women and Alcohol in Gothenburg (WAG).

Clinical cohort studies:

  • Medical record review studies, including a nationwide retrospective review of medical records of people who died by suicide in Sweden.
  • Quantitative studies cohort studies, for example the multicenter study, S-SAY, where 804 individuals who received care after suicide attempts or non-suicidal self-harm are followed up.
  • Qualitative studies, interviews with patients with lived experience of suicidality. These are highlighted in the projects "När livet blir svårt att leva", SCREAM and Livskämpar 70+.

Intervention research:

  • Livskämpar 70+, a psychological treatment study for suicidal behavior among geropsychiatric patients. 
  • Existential group therapy in primary care, an RCT involving older adults 75+ with psychological distress.
  • The PCPC study (Person-centered Psychosis Care), in this study we test a training intervention for inpatient staff. The aim is to increase participation in care for people with psychosis.

Studies aimed at home care/special housing:

  • Study of attitudes to suicidal behavior and mental illness among care staff and supervisors in home care /long term care facilities in the Västra Götaland region as well as Halland County.
  • Focus groups on suicide prevention work with staff in home care / long term care facilities.
  • Interviews with care recipients in home care / long term care facilities with own experience of depression / suicidal behavior.
  • Interviews with relatives of care recipients in home care / long term care facilities who died by suicide.