Definite and undetermined forensic diagnoses of suicide among immigrants in Sweden

Acta Psychiatr Scand. 1995 Feb;91(2):130-5. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0447.1995.tb09753.x.


A total of 707 cases of violent death (suicide, undetermined mode or accident) occurring in 1990 were investigated at the Department of Forensic Medicine in Stockholm. The catchment area of the Department includes about 1.9 million people. Fourteen percent of the population in the area are immigrants. The largest single immigrant group was the 91,015 Finnish-born inhabitants, who represented 33% of the overall immigrant population. Thirty percent of all undetermined deaths and 20% of the suicides were among people born outside Sweden. A significant overrepresentation of the largest immigrant group (Finnish-born) was found in both the definite and undetermined suicide categories. There was also an overall overrepresentation of immigrants among the undetermined cases and a trend towards overrepresentation among definite suicides. Also, there was a significant overall overrepresentation of immigrants in the total cases of undetermined and definite suicide. Some psychosocial factors found predominant among the immigrant sample were social isolation, low social class and poor social network. The findings in this study indicates that immigrant status should be considered as a risk factor for suicide in Sweden. Previous reports on the high suicide rates among immigrants in Australia, Canada, Great Britain and the United States suggest that the overrepresentation of immigrants found in our study could represent a worldwide epidemiological trend related to voluntary and forced migration. Possible hypotheses that could explain this phenomenon are discussed.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Emigration and Immigration*
  • Employment
  • Female
  • Finland
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marital Status
  • Middle Aged
  • Sex Factors
  • Social Isolation
  • Suicide / statistics & numerical data*
  • Sweden / epidemiology
  • Sweden / ethnology