[Skip to content]

.

Bombings altered suicide rates

7 January 2009

Suicide rates in England dropped significantly for the two days following the 7 July 2005 bombings, and the two days following the 21st July 2005 attempted bombings, in London.
 
 Dr Mario Cortina Borja from the UCL ICH and Dr Emad Salib from the Department of Psychiatry at Liverpool University showed a decline in suicide rates following these attacks. Similar reductions were observed in England after the September 11th 2001 bombings in New York and other high profile events. The hypothesis, first proposed by Durkheim in the late 19th  century, is that at times of a perceived threat to national security, suicide rates drop as a result of an increase in social cohesion and purpose.

The study, published in British Journal of Psychiatry, showed just such decline after the events of July 2005 in London. Although the difference was statistically significant it was shorter in duration than  expected, and the authors speculate that this may be a result of the UK's long exposure to domestic terrorism.

It has also been demonstrated in other research that high profile disasters or deaths increase suicide rates. For instance, the televised national shock and public display of grief following the death of Princess Diana in 1997 was shown to have influenced the rate of suicidal behaviour and self-harm.

Contact information:

GOSH-ICH Press Office: 020 7239 3125
Email: Coxs@gosh.nhs.uk
For genuine and urgent out of hours call speak to switchboard on 020 7405 9200

Notes to editors

Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Trust is the country’s leading centre for treating sick children, with the widest range of specialists under one roof.

With the UCL Institute of Child Health, we are the largest centre for paediatric research outside the US and play a key role in training children’s health specialists for the future.

Our charity needs to raise £50 million every year to help rebuild and refurbish Great Ormond Street Hospital, buy vital equipment and fund pioneering research. With your help we provide world class care to our very ill children and their families.