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Angela Samata, lived experience advisor, trainer and creative consultant with Suicide Bereavement UK (SBUK), was recently invited by peer-reviewed general medical journal The Lancet to discuss the topic of suicidal behaviour transmission.

Writing for the publication, Ms Samata cited a study carried out by Anne Ranning et al that explored the relationship between parental suicidal behaviour and that of their children.

The conclusion was drawn that transmission of specific behaviours for suicide and suicide attempts does, in fact, exist, although there is a stronger relationship for maternal suicidal behaviour than for paternal. 

There appears to be a link with the age at which individuals were bereaved, with the highest incidence found among those bereaved while young (two to five years). And the highest incidence of suicide attempt was seen among those aged between 15 and 19, with many using similar methods to their parents.

Ms Samata observed: “[The study] confirms that transgenerational transmission of suicidal behaviour exists, a fear experienced by most parents caring for children bereaved by suicide. 

“The urgency of addressing this problem cannot be underestimated. Solutions that fail to fully explore the potential effect of mitigation measures, environmental factors, or the role that suicide prevention strategies have, could have adverse unintended consequences.”

Ms Samata herself is a freelance arts professional, with experience of working in mental health, suicide prevention and postvention. She uses her unique skill set to combine disciplines and raise awareness, reduce stigma and influence policy and practice.

She is also Ambassador of the Survivors of the Bereaved by Suicide, a nationwide charity that offers a free service to bereaved adults around the UK, providing online, in-person and telephone support.