• suicide;
  • genetics;
  • genetic epidemiology;
  • migrant studies;
  • meta-analysis

Objective:  Multifaceted evidence (family, twin, adoption, molecular genetic, geographic and surname studies of suicide) suggests genetic risk factors for suicide. Migrant studies are also informative in this context, but underused. In particular, a meta-analysis of the associations of immigrant (IMM) and country-of-birth (COB) suicide rates is unavailable.

Method:  Thirty-three studies, reporting IMM suicide rates for nearly 50 nationalities in seven host countries (Australia, Austria, Canada, England, the Netherlands, Sweden and the USA), were retrieved.

Results:  Total-population IMM and COB suicide rates were strongly positively associated (combined rank-order correlation across 20 eligible studies: 0.65, 95% CI: 0.56–0.73, < 10−9). The effect generalized across both sexes, host countries and study periods.

Conclusion:  Following the logic of the migrant study design of genetic epidemiology, the correspondence of IMM and COB suicide rates is consistent with the assumption of population differences in the prevalence of genetic risk factors for suicide.