The foundation of the Unit for Suicide Research was considered necessary in view of the unfavorable situation in Belgium when compared to surrounding countries with respect to the occurrence of suicidal behaviour. For instance, an epidemiological overview of the occurrence of suicide reveals that for middle aged women Belgium ranks among the top three worldwide. In certain agegroups suicide is the main cause of death, and suicide is now strongly increasing among young men. Every day approximately seven people commit suicide in Belgium, while the yearly number of attempted suicides is estimated at, at the least, 70.000.

Many myths continue to surround the issue of suicide. For instance, many people believe that suicide occurs ?out of the blue?, without any warning signs. It is widely believed that people who talk about it will not commit suicide. Such myths strongly decrease our opportunities for prevention. The vast majority of suicides do not occur without warning signs, and can be considered as the final step in a suicidal process that starts with thoughts about suicide, suicidal communications, evolves into suicide attempts, and then ends by means of completed suicide. Research has clearly shown that the majority of people who commit suicide have communicated their plans to do so, or have seeked help of, for instance, their general practitioner.

Research findings like these indicate that suicide càn be prevented.