Canadian study says 28% of adults who attempted suicide now thriving

adults attempted suicide, suicide research
© Fizkes

The study, peer-reviewed and published in Archives of Suicide Research, finds that 28% of adults who attempted suicide now have excellent mental health

For some, especially during the increased stresses of the pandemic, there appears to be no light ahead. Now, Canadian researchers have looked into what happens to the mental health of adults who attempted suicide.

This suicide research team found that over 1 in 4 adults, 28.4%, were now living with excellent mental health – suggesting a complete turnaround in wellbeing is psychologically possible, even likely.

“This is a very hopeful finding for individuals struggling with suicidality and their loved ones,” said lead author Esme Fuller-Thomson, professor at the University of Toronto’s Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work and director of the Institute for Life Course and Aging.

“Our findings indicate a significant minority of individuals with a history of suicide attempts go on to achieve high levels of happiness and psychological flourishing.”

“individuals […] go on to achieve high levels of happiness and psychological flourishing.”

They looked at 769 Canadians who had a previous history of suicide attempts. To be considered at excellent mental health, the adults who attempted suicide had to show:

  • Freedom from mental illness, such as substance dependence, psychiatric disorders, suicidality in the previous year;
  • Almost daily happiness or life satisfaction in the past month;
  • And high levels of social and psychological well-being in the past month.

“We found social support to be a key factor in supporting the well-being of individuals with previous suicide attempts,” said co-author Philip Baiden, an assistant professor at the University of Texas at Arlington, School of Social Work.

“Respondents who had someone to confide in were six times more likely to be in a state of complete mental health.”

“Respondents who had someone to confide in were six times more likely to be in a state of complete mental health.”

Loneliness and lack of support was found to be a key issue across several countries mid-pandemic, as isolation led to support systems drifting away or becoming inaccessible. In the UK, a study found that loneliness could even change brain structure. 

In this work, women, older people and those with higher income jobs were found to be more likely to have strong mental health.

“While remission from suicidality is an important factor in the recovery process, this research draws attention to mental health outcomes beyond the absence of a suicide attempt,” said co-author Andie MacNeil, a recent Master of Social Work graduate from the University of Toronto.

“This study incorporates measures of social and psychological well-being, encouraging a more holistic approach to recovery from suicidality.”

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