Suicide and self-harm: series of articles in The Lancet


Suicide is the second most common cause of death in young people worldwide (after accidental death). A wide range of factors contribute to self-harm and suicide, including mental health, poverty, living in a rural setting and being single.

There is scant evidence for the treatment of self-harm or suicide with talking treatments or drugs and there has been a lot of debate about the role that antidepressants may play in young people.

We know that the media play a key role in suicide and self-harm ‘clusters’ and the recent explosion in new media is clearly an area that warrants further research.

The Lancet have published a series of freely available articles about suicide and self-harm. You have to register on their website to read the full-text, but access is then free once you have an account.

The papers are a great introduction to this topic for people who are new to the subject, but also offer a detailed overview of best current knowledge in the area, so will be relevant to mental health professionals with more than a passing interest.

There are three research papers, two comment pieces, an article about suicide mortality in India and a podcast providing an overview of the series. The three research papers cover:

  • The current state of knowledge for self-harm and suicide in adolescents
  • An updated perspective on the burden of suicide in young men (19-30 years old), specific risk factors, and evidence-based interventions
  • The prevention of suicide by the limiting of access to highly lethal methods

If you need help

If you need help and support now and you live in the UK or the Republic of Ireland, please call the Samaritans on 116 123.

If you live elsewhere, we recommend finding a local Crisis Centre on the IASP website.

We also highly recommend that you visit the Connecting with People: Staying Safe resource.


Hawton, K. et al Self-harm and suicide in adolescents. The Lancet, Volume 379, Issue 9834, Pages 2373-2382, 23 June 2012. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(12)60322-5

Pitman, A. et al Suicide in young men. The Lancet, Volume 379, Issue 9834, Pages 2383-2392, 23 June 2012. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(12)60731-4

Yip, PSF. et al Means restriction for suicide prevention. The Lancet, Volume 379, Issue 9834, Pages 2393-2399, 23 June 2012. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(12)60521-2

The Lancet suicide series. 22 Jun 2012.

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Andre Tomlin

André Tomlin is an Information Scientist with 20 years experience working in evidence-based healthcare. He's worked in the NHS, for Oxford University and since 2002 as Managing Director of Minervation Ltd, a consultancy company who do clever digital stuff for charities, universities and the public sector. Most recently André has been the driving force behind the Mental Elf and the National Elf Service; an innovative digital platform that helps professionals keep up to date with simple, clear and engaging summaries of evidence-based research. André is a Trustee at the Centre for Mental Health and an Honorary Research Fellow at University College London Division of Psychiatry. He lives in Bristol, surrounded by dogs, elflings and lots of woodland!

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