open menu

Self-rated mental health or medication record? Which best predicts suicide in Northern Ireland

Research Overview

Mental ill-health places a huge burden on individuals but also on the wider society. One of the most overt manifestations of this is suicide and rates of suicide are increasing throughout the world and also in Northern Ireland which now has the highest rate of suicide rate in the UK and Ireland. Understanding the causes of poor mental health starts with a better understanding of the population at risk. To date there is incomplete knowledge of the individual and household-level factors affecting poor mental health. Depression, anxiety and parasuicides are known to be more commonly diagnosed in women, whereas suicide is more common amongst young men. By identifying the most accurate indicator of poor mental health available we can utilize this to profile those at risk and further explore the factors associated with both poor and good mental health. Understanding  if medication record or self-report mental health, or a combination of both, is the best measure of poor mental health.

The 2011 Census in Northern Ireland included a question asking “Do you have any of the following conditions which have lasted, or are expected to last, at least 12 months?” including “an emotional, psychological or mental health condition (such as depression or schizophrenia)”. This is unique to Northern Ireland and was not asked in other UK censuses. We posit that this single question may be a more accurate indicator of poor mental health than prescribing alone, or that using both may be a better indicator than just one. We will look at the outcome of death by suicide, which is known to be associated with poor mental health, to determine if medication record or self-report mental health or a combination of both is the best measure of poor mental health. By identifying the most accurate indicator of poor mental health we further explore the factors associated with both risk and resilience.

The data we will use will determine if medication record or self-report mental health, or a combination of both, is the best measure of poor mental health.


Benefit

By identifying the most accurate indicator of poor mental health available enables us to utilize the information to profile those at risk and further explore the factors associated with both poor and good mental health.


Government departments

Business Services Organisation data, Census and Death records.


Date approved

February 2016 


Project Team                 

Dr Aideen Maguire (PI), Centre of Excellence for Public Health, Northern Ireland

Dr Dermot O’Reilly (Co-I), ADRC-NI

Dr David Wright (Co-I), ADRC-NI


Page last updated: 17/07/2017