At the end of the 1970s, the late professor Niels Juel-Nielsen, MD, DMSc, brought attention to the field of suicide research at the Psychiatric Institute at Odense University as it was called then. This led to the participation in the Nordic research project Suicide in Scandinavia 1977-1983 (supported by the Joint Committee of the Nordic Medical Research Councils – NOS-M).
Joint European research programme
In 1985, Niels Juel-Nielsen and Unni Bille-Brahe were invited to participate in the creation and management of a joint European research programme initiated by the WHO Regional Office for Europe. The Project The WHO-EURO Multicentre Study on Parasuicide started in 1989 and caused the establishment of a special Centre for Suicide Research at the Psychiatric Department at Odense University Hospital. The centre was mainly financed by the Rockwool Foundation the following four years.
Establishment of a suicide prevention centre
In 1991 – 1992 at the request of the Danish National Board of Health, the centre, along with the then administrative consultant Knud Jensen, MD, DMSC, were involved in developing and starting up the Centre for the Prevention of Suicidal Behaviour in Odense. In 1992, the Centre for Suicide Research and the newly established Prevention Centre moved into an old villa near the hospital.
The first letter of appropriation
Since 1994, the centre has been financed by the Ministry of Social Affairs, now the Ministry of Social Affairs and the interior, via funds designated to particular social efforts. The appropriation letter announces that the purpose of the centre is to:
“conduct research into attempted and completed suicides and also function as knowledge centre with the intention of incorporating research results into the preventive efforts against suicide. The purpose is to launch preventive actions against those groups that demonstrate high risks of suicide. Furthermore, the centre will identify areas of particular interest regarding preventive efforts, including educating and upgrading relevant staff that interact with high-risk groups daily. The centre will continuously evaluate the impact of the preventive efforts against suicide.”
Endorsement of the centre’s registers
As of November 1st 1997, the centre’s Register for Suicides and Register for Suicide Attempts were endorsed as public registers.
In 1999 the centre was established as a self-governing institution under the Ministry of Social Affairs. Since 2001, director of the centre has been Lilian Zoellner, Ph.D.