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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 58 (2016) 2, 105 - 113

New research

Risk factors and protective factors relating to suicide in the Netherlands and Flanders

A. Reynders, A.J.F.M. Kerkhof, G. Molenberghs, C. van Audenhove

background The suicide rate is 82% higher in the Flanders region of Belgium than in the Netherlands.
aim To investigate to what extent Flanders and the Netherlands differ with regard to the risk factors and protective factors relating to suicide and attempted suicide.
method By means of a structured postal questionnaire, we collected data on the following topics from 2999 Flemish and Dutch people between 18 and 64 years: mental well-being and earlier attempts to commit suicide, the help they had received and their intention to seek help for psychological problems, awareness of the mental health care available, satisfaction with the help received, and attitudes to suicide.
results The incidence of psychological problems and suicidality did not differ significantly between Flanders and the Netherlands. Compared to Flemish people, Dutch people with psychological problems had received more psychological help and more often expressed the intention to seek help in the future. Furthermore, the Dutch were better informed about mental health care, and patient satisfaction was higher in the Netherlands. Compared to the Flemish people, the Dutch had more positive and understanding attitude to suicide.
conclusion In general, risk factors for suicide were similar in the Netherlands and Flanders. However, the Dutch were characterised by more protective factors. We attempt to explain these differences and suggest ways of improving suicidal prevention policy.

keywords attittude, Flanders, Netherlands, protective factors, risk factors, suicide