My Fulbright Fellowship project is using population-based Norwegian register data — i.e., data routinely collected by governments on their populations’ health events, social status, and deaths — to investigate how being injured through violence is associated with subsequent risk for non-fatal and fatal suicidal behavior. Although both violence and suicidal behavior are major public health threats around the world, we know little about how they are related, and this research will shed light on that. Results from my work show that violently injured people are about 10 times as likely as their non-injured peers to subsequently attempt suicide — and about five times as likely to actually die by suicide. These findings underscore how the “long arm” of violence can profoundly affect mental health, including suicidal behavior. Violence prevention efforts by the public health community are vital in their own right, but will likely have cascading beneficial effects on population mental health as well. As a Fulbright-funded project, my work in Norway is also aimed at enhancing cultural dialogue and fostering international partnerships between UC Merced and the University of Oslo.
For more stories about UC Merced Public Health Department faculty research, check out Faculty on the Forefront.