Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

The last contact with a health professional before suicide: What was missed?

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
3.00.00  Medical sciences     

Code Science Field
B680  Biomedical sciences  Public health, epidemiology 

Code Science Field
3.05  Medical and Health Sciences  Other medical sciences 
suicidal behaviour, Psychological Autopsy, last contact
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Researchers (12)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  32135  PhD Diego De Leo  Public health (occupational safety)  Head  2011 - 2014  438 
2.  26321  Manca Drobne  Public health (occupational safety)  Technical associate  2011 - 2014  54 
3.  26180  Dejan Kozel  Psychiatry  Researcher  2012 - 2014  49 
4.  29587  PhD Marja Kuzmanić  Psychiatry  Junior researcher  2011  31 
5.  34312  PhD Urša Mars Bitenc  Psychology  Junior researcher  2012 - 2014  63 
6.  27785  Ana Petrović  Psychiatry  Researcher  2013 - 2014  47 
7.  34313  PhD Tina Podlogar  Psychiatry  Researcher  2012 - 2014  133 
8.  28757  PhD Vita Poštuvan  Psychology  Researcher  2011 - 2014  530 
9.  24800  PhD Maja Roškar  Public health (occupational safety)  Researcher  2012 - 2014  429 
10.  22821  PhD Saška Roškar  Psychiatry  Researcher  2011 - 2014  361 
11.  29738  MSc Alenka Tančič Grum  Public health (occupational safety)  Researcher  2011 - 2014  191 
12.  35873  Janina Žiberna  Medical sciences  Researcher  2013 - 2014  27 
Organisations (3)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  1669  University of Primorska, Andrej Marušič Insitute  Koper  1810014007  10,792 
2.  2790  University of Primorska, Faculty of mathematics, Natural Sciences and Information Technologies  Koper  1810014009  17,758 
3.  3333  National Institut of Public Health  Ljubljana  6462642  18,396 
The proposed project The last contact with a health professional before suicide: What was missed focuses on researching suicide on the basis of the psychological autopsy (PA) research method. In Slovenia suicide has not been studied with this method so far and consequently this project with contribute considerably to our understanding of this complex phenomenon as well as its prevention in the future. Namely, Slovenia still records high suicide mortality rates regardless of the decline in the recent years. The problem of suicide is especially significant during the times of the economic crisis, which is importantly related to people’s psychological well-being.   The main focus of the proposed research project is put on suicide victims from different Slovenain regions. Data about these individuals will be gathered through interviews with their next-of-kin and/or friends as well as with health professionals that were in touch with the suicide victim in the months prior to death. Gathered data will be compared with the control group of natural unexpected deaths. The project will cover approximately 100 cases in both groups together, namely death by suicide (case group) and natural unexpected death (control group). Trained clinical researchers will conduct semi-structured interviews with the next-of-kin of the deceased as well as with all health professionals who had contacts with the deceased in the months prior to their death. The studied data will entail demographics, information about psychopathology, personality characteristics, physical health status, life circumstances, and information regarding the last contact of the victim with the health professionals.   The main research question concerns the different health care employees and their skills in recognition of suicidal behaviour. The health care employees are in fact the main gatekeepers that can contribute to suicide prevention. Findings have shown that most of the people who eventually commit suicide, visit their doctor a couple of months or even weeks before suicide, but their suicide risk is unfortunately often not recognized. In this project we would like to focus on conducting psychological autopsies (PA) and through this method on identification of specific risk factors for suicidal behaviour that remain unnoticed for various reasons. By studying these contacts we will fill a significant gap in the field of suicidology in Slovenia. More specifically, the aim of this project is to find out if and how the last contact(s) with the health professional(s) could contribute to suicide prevention. Specifically examined will be the individual context of suicide victim’s last health care contact, the potential warning signs displayed, and the abilities of health professionals to identify and intervene prior to the event. Essential information that will be sought pertains to the process of the contact, including rapport attained; unusual behaviour by the subject; whether the health professional felt uneasy about anything; whether the health professional was at all concerned about the possibility of suicide.   Besides, the PA method will enable us to compare the characteristics of suicides from various age groups and regions, and on the basis of this we would be able to evaluate differences and similarities in risk and protective factors related to suicide, medical and psychiatric diagnoses and responsiveness to various interventions. With the gathered information our aim is to develop a targeted approach to assist clinicians in detecting and managing high suicide risk patients since research points to the importance of suicide prevention in primary care.
Significance for science
During the project the research team has gained new knowledge and contacts with the researchers and professionals from abroad. There was an exchange of knowledge, instruments, as well as the research team together with the foreign researchers published an important publication, which in detail presents the problems in suicidology and the latest findings. The researchers have already presented the findings acquired during the project at the international congresses and conferences, while the results will be disseminated further in the future (anticipated additional publication of articles). During the project an international conference titled Triple i in suicidology was organized every year, where we hosted renowned scientists and experts from Slovenia and abroad.
Significance for the country
In addition to connections with foreign countries that are of utmost importance for Slovenia, the researchers have established good cooperation with organizations and institutions in Slovenia. Above all, it is to highlight the cooperation between the Slovene Centre for Suicide Research and The Slovenian Police. Collaboration and shared experiences were the initiative to organize an expert conference on the topic of suicide that was attended by around 100 representatives of the police, which is a big step in the direction of joint work in the field of identification and prevention of suicidal behaviour in Slovenia. The research group has also translated, adapted and completed the protocol to conduct research of psychological autopsy, which is an important instrument for the research of the risk factors and protective factors for suicide and suicidal behaviour. Within the project we annually organized an international scientific conference titled Triple i in suicidology, which presents the new findings in the field to the scientific, professional and general public, reduces the stigma of suicidal behaviour and suicide, and raises awareness of the types of prevention. Each year, about 60 individuals from different areas (health care, social services, NGOs, etc.) are additionally trained at the conference.
Most important scientific results Annual report 2012, 2013, final report, complete report on dLib.si
Most important socioeconomically and culturally relevant results Annual report 2012, 2013, final report, complete report on dLib.si
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