Migrants And Refugees

Consideration and understanding of the difficulties encountered by migrants and refugees must be recognised in relation to adjusting to a new country. It is vital to acknowledge that suicide rates differ between cultures and that immigrant suicide rates tend to reflect rates of their country of origin.[1], [2]


Of the persons registered as suicide deaths in Australia during the period 2001 to 2010, persons born outside Australia accounted for 25.1% of deaths.[3] Also, the research suggests that migrant males tend to have lower suicide rates than the Australian born male, whereas the rate is higher for females born overseas.[4]


Overall, the higher suicide rates for immigrants have been attributed to higher degrees of social assimilation and lower levels of community cohesiveness.[5] The risk of suicide appears to be greater for those who dispute the reason for migration, are from a lower social class, encounter significant language barriers and hardships associated with cultural and physical dislocation.[6]


The factors that increase the risk of suicide for refugees are post-traumatic stress disorder[7] and bereavement, physical illness, other mental health issues, social support factors, substance misuse and previous attempts.


To assist migrants and refugees improve resettlement outcomes and post-migration stressors focus on psychological aspects such as helping the person in regaining control over their lives and developing a sense of stability, safety and trust are paramount.[8]



[1] De Leo, D., & Spathonis, K. (2003). Culture, society and suicide. Australian Mosaic, 4, 27-30.

[2] Burvill, P. W. (1998). Migrant suicide rates in Australia and in country of birth. Psychosocial Medicine, 28, 201-208.

[3] Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2012). Suicides, Australia, 2010, (Catalogue number 3309.0), Country of Birth. Retrieved from http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Products/3309.0~2010~Chapter~Country+of+birth?OpenDocument

[4] Morrell, S., Taylor, R., Slaytor, E. & Ford, P. (1999). Urban and rural suicide differentials in migrants and the Australian-born, New South Wales, Australia 1985-1994. Social Science and Medicine, 49, 81-91.

[5] Trovato, F. (1986). A time series analysis of international immigration and mortality in Canada. International Journal of Social Psychiatry, 32, 38-46.

[6] Ferrada-Noli, M., Asberg, M., Ormstad, K., & Nordstrom, P. (1995). Definite and undetermined forensic diagnoses of suicide among immigrants in Sweden. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 91, 130-135.

[7] Australian Government, Department of Health and Ageing. (2008). Living Is For Everyone: Research and evidence in suicide prevention. Canberra, Australia: Commonwealth of Australia.

[8] Ehntholt, K. A., & Yule, W. (2006). Practitioner review: Assessment and treatment of refugee children and adolescents who have experienced war-related trauma.  Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 47(12), 1197-1210.





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