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Mental health and substance abuse disorders on the risk of suicide: A population-based study

Category(s): Health
Status: Active
Principal: Sandra Magalhaes
Project Number: P0048
Year Approved: 2020

Project Description

Suicide is a significant public health concern: every day, approximately eleven Canadians die by suicide, and an even greater number experiences suicidal thoughts or attempts suicide. In an in-depth qualitative study of the deaths of 102 New Brunswickers who died by suicide between April 2002 and May 2003 researchers found a high correlation between suicide, mental health disorders and substance abuse disorders. Comorbid mental health and substance abuse disorders impacted over 42% of victims, a finding that suggested a need for greater integration of mental health and substance abuse services. 

Building on this work, we will conduct a quantitative study of suicide risk to understand how comorbidity of mental health and substance abuse disorders relate to suicide completion in NB at the population-level. We will draw on longitudinal administrative data (2003 to 2018) housed at NB-IRDT – specifically the Citizen Database, Discharge Abstract Database and Suicide Registry – to create a retrospective cohort.  

We will first describe the distribution of suicide over time by key demographic and geographic factors. Rates of hospitalization for mental health and substance abuse disorders will then be characterized to understand their influence on risk of suicide over time. To contextualize our results, we will derive program/system-level indicators (e.g., quality of mental health care services, follow-up after hospitalization, readmission within 30 days) to characterize mental health services and will also assess how these change over time. 

This research will provide further evidence on the intersections between mental health and substance abuse disorders on the risk of suicide in NB at the individual and program level, using population-based, prospectively collected longitudinal data.