Suicide and suicide attempts among asylum-seekers in Denmark
Amiri, D.K., Madsen, T., Norredam, M., Brande, S.E., Mittendorfer-Rutz, E., Nordentoft, M., & Erlangsen, A.
Objective: There are concerns that asylum-seekers are at increased risk of suicide attempt and suicide mortality. Yet, largescale nationwide studies are limited. Our aim was to examine whether asylum-seekers in Denmark had higher rates of suicide attempt and suicide when compared to the general population.
Methods: A retrospective cohort design was used. Data on asylum-seekers and the general population living in Denmark during 2009-2019 were obtained from the Immigration services and national registers. Indirect standardization was applied to adjust for differences with respect to age group and sex and Incidence Rate Ratios (IRR) with 95% confidence intervals were calculated.
Results: In a population of 78,666 asylum-seekers, a total of 601 suicide attempts and 9 suicides were recorded. The rate of suicide attempt was 842.0 per 100,000 person-years for asylum-seekers and 92.3 per 100,000 person-years for the general population. When adjusting for differences related to age group and sex, an IRR of 8.5 (95% CI: 7.6-9.5) was found for suicide attempt between 2014-2019. The IRR for suicide attempt unaccompanied minors between 2015 and 2019 was 5.8 (95% CI: 4.3-7.5) when adjusting for age group. We did not find an elevated rate of suicide among asylum-seekers (IRR: 1.6, 95% CI: 0.6-3.5).
Conclusions: Asylum-seekers were found to have higher rates of suicide attempt than the general population in Denmark. This also applied to unaccompanied minors. Our study emphasizes the need for awareness and preventive measures targeting mental health and suicidal behavior among asylum-seekers.