Media Releases

Close to 40% of formerly suicidal Canadians subsequently achieve complete mental health

January 20, 2016

TORONTO, ON – Close to 40% (38%) of for­mer­ly sui­ci­dal Cana­di­ans have reached a state of com­plete men­tal health, not only being free of symp­toms of men­tal ill­ness, sui­ci­dal thoughts or sub­stance abuse in the pre­ced­ing year, but also report­ing almost dai­ly hap­pi­ness or life sat­is­fac­tion, and social and psy­cho­log­i­cal well­be­ing accord­ing to a new study from researchers at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to. The study will appear online this month in the jour­nal Sui­cide and Life-Threat­en­ing Behav­ior.

“We found that among for­mer­ly sui­ci­dal indi­vid­u­als, those who have some­one they could con­fide in were sev­en times more like­ly to have com­plete men­tal health, after adjust­ing for poten­tial con­founders” says lead author Philip Baiden, a PhD Stu­dent at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toronto’s Fac­tor-Inwen­tash Fac­ul­ty of Social Work.

This find­ing is in keep­ing with the large body of research that has con­sis­tent­ly demon­strat­ed that indi­vid­u­als with greater social sup­port and who have some­one they can count on are less like­ly to suf­fer psy­cho­log­i­cal dis­tress and oth­er men­tal ill­ness. Oth­er fac­tors asso­ci­at­ed with achiev­ing com­plete men­tal health among for­mer­ly sui­ci­dal respon­dents include being old­er, being a woman, hav­ing high­er income and the use of spir­i­tu­al­i­ty to cope. Those with chron­ic pain, insom­nia or a his­to­ry of alco­hol depen­den­cy were less like­ly to be in com­plete men­tal health.

The researchers exam­ined data from a rep­re­sen­ta­tive sam­ple of 2,884 for­mer­ly sui­ci­dal adults from Sta­tis­tics Canada’s 2012 Cana­di­an Com­mu­ni­ty Health Sur­vey-Men­tal Health.

“Our find­ings pro­vide a hope­ful mes­sage for those in the depths of despair and their loved ones. Long-term recov­ery goals should be not lim­it­ed to mere remis­sion from sui­ci­dal thoughts. A large minor­i­ty of sui­ci­dal indi­vid­u­als can achieve a high lev­el of hap­pi­ness and com­plete men­tal health. There is a promis­ing light at the end of the tun­nel” says co-author Esme Fuller-Thom­son, San­dra Rot­man Endowed Chair in Social Work and Inter­im Direc­tor of the Insti­tute for Life Course and Aging.

Pho­to of the researchers are avail­able.


The work was sup­port­ed in part by: Joseph-Armand Bom­bardier Cana­da Grad­u­ate Schol­ar­ship-Doc­tor­al Award through the Social Sci­ences and Human­i­ties Research Coun­cil of Cana­da award­ed to Mr. Baiden. Pro­fes­sor Fuller-Thom­son also received assis­tance from the San­dra Rot­man Endowed Chair in Social Work.

For infor­ma­tion or pho­tos of the researchers, please con­tact:

Philip Baiden
Fac­tor-Inwen­tash Fac­ul­ty of Social Work
Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to
Tel: 416–831-7445

Pro­fes­sor Esme Fuller-Thom­son
Pro­fes­sor & San­dra Rot­man Endowed Chair
Insti­tute for Life Course & Aging
Fac­tor-Inwen­tash Fac­ul­ty of Social Work
Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to
Tel: 416–209-3231

Dominic Ali
Media Rela­tions Offi­cer
Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to
Tel: 416–978-6974