UMMS Affiliation

Department of Emergency Medicine

Publication Date


Document Type



Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Pathological Conditions, Signs and Symptoms | Psychiatric and Mental Health | Psychiatry | Psychiatry and Psychology | Psychology


BACKGROUND: Suicide has profound effects on families and communities, but is a statistically rare event. Psychological autopsies using a case-control design allow researchers to examine risk factors for suicide, using a variety of sources to detail the psychological and social characteristics of decedents and to compare them to controls. The Suicide Support and Information System Case Control study (SSIS-ACE) aimed to compare psychosocial, psychiatric and work-related risk factors across three groups of subjects: suicide decedents, patients presenting to hospital with a high-risk self-harm episode, and general practice controls.

METHODS: The study design includes two inter-related studies; one main case-control study: comparing suicide cases to general practice (GP) controls, and one comparative study: comparing suicide cases to patients presenting with high-risk self-harm. Consecutive cases of suicide and probable suicide are identified through coroners' registration of deaths in the defined region (Cork City and County, Ireland) and are frequency-matched for age group and gender with GP patient controls recruited from the same GP practice as the deceased. Data sources for suicide cases include coroners' records, interviews with health care professionals and proxy informants; data sources for GP controls and for high-risk self-harm controls include interviews with control, with proxy informants and with health care professionals. Interviews are semi-structured and consist of quantitative and qualitative parts. The quantitative parts include a range of validated questionnaires addressing psychiatric, psychosocial and occupational factors. The study adopts several methodological innovations, including accessing multiple data sources for suicide cases and controls simultaneously, recruiting proxy informants to examine consistency across sources.

CONCLUSIONS: The study allows for the investigation of consistency across different data sources and contributes to the methodological advancement of psychological autopsy research. The study will also inform clinical and public health practice. The comparison between suicide cases and controls will allow investigation of risk and protective factors for suicide more generally, while the comparison with high-risk self-harm patients will help to identify the factors associated specifically with a fatal outcome to a self-harm episode. A further enhancement is the particular focus on specific work-related risk factors for suicide.


Case-control, Family informants, High-risk self-harm, Methodology, Occupational, Psychiatric, Psychological autopsy, Psychosocial, Suicide

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DOI of Published Version



BMC Psychiatry. 2019 Sep 6;19(1):275. doi: 10.1186/s12888-019-2249-6. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

BMC psychiatry


Full author list omitted for brevity. For the full list of authors, see article.

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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.