The Unit aims at stimulating and coordinating the scientific research that is conducted at the Department of Psychiatry of the University Hospital in Gent. This research program includes studies on the occurrence, causes, and prevention of suicide by a multidisciplinary team, based on the biological, psychological, and social determinants of suicidal behaviour. The research work started in 1986, and included initially the monitoring of characteristics of patients referred to the Accident & Emergency department of the University Hospital. This monitoring study still continues, and results in the second largest European data base on attempted suicide including data on more than 10.000 patients.

The Unit for Suicide Research aims at integrating the research projects in research at national and European levels. There is now substantial cooperation with several other research institutes in Europe, whether or not in the context of multicentre studies coordinated by the World Health Organization and the Commission of the European Communities. Close cooperation is established with researchers in, among others, Oxford (UK), Bologna (It), Cork (Ireland) and Odense (Denmark). The Unit for Suicide Research was invited to organize the "7th European Symposium on Suicide and Suicidal Behaviour" in 1998 in Gent.