A scientometric analysis of suicide research: 1990-2018

J Affect Disord. 2020 Apr 1;266:356-365. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2020.01.121. Epub 2020 Jan 25.


Background: Increasing knowledge on suicide prevention has been shown to be important for suicide prevention. This paper exams the accomplishment of research on suicide and examine how those research activities contribute to the change of suicide rates.

Methods: Data of the publications relating to suicide from 1990 to 2018 were retrieved from the Web of Science and Scopus. Bibliographic information was analyzed and the relationships between suicide rates with the number of publications per million population and the average article citations per year were examined.

Results: From 1990 to 2018, globally, publications on suicide have increased significantly. The United States ("USA") had the greatest number of publications. Research collaborations among different countries/regions have been flourishing and multinational centers have become more common than ever. Nonetheless, in some countries/regions with high rates of suicide, suicide research was scarce. It was found that the number of publications per million population and the average article citations per year were negatively correlated with the suicide rates at the global level (r = - 0.96, p < 0.001; r = -0.91, p < 0.001, respectively), but not in the higher SDI regions (r = -0.05, p = 0.81; r = 0.02, p = 0.91, respectively). Furthermore, research focusing on suicide intervention was also relatively limited.

Limitation: The origins of the publications were only based on the corresponding authors' regions.

Conclusions: There is significant imbalance in the amount of research effort especially in the regions with high suicide rates. In the higher socioeconomic level regions, the quantity and quality of publications sometimes do not transpire in the reduction of suicide rates. A better connection between the fundamental and practical suicide research should be established. More resources should be made available to the low- and middle-income countries/regions with higher suicide risks, then the effect of suicide prevention might be much more significant.

Keywords: Scientometric analysis; Suicide prevention; Suicide research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bibliometrics
  • Biomedical Research*
  • Humans
  • Suicide* / prevention & control
  • United States / epidemiology