Obituary: Unni Bille-Brahe

Unni Bille-Brahe, born in 1930 in Norway and graduated from University of Odense, Denmark in medical sociology passed away on July 14th, 2017 at the age of 87. She died peacefully in her home after a short period of illness. She founded the Center for Suicide Research in Odense in 1989 and was its leader until 2000 where she due to age-requirements was forced to retire. During the first years of the centre where funding was short, her employees at times volunteered to work for free due to the important cause of their work. After a visit paid by a headstrong Unni to the Minister of Social Affairs, she in the 1990s secured a permanent funding of centre by the Danish state.

Under her leadership, Centre for Suicide Research successfully participated in several international research projects; amongst them the EPSIS study where data on persons with suicide attempts were collected in numerous European countries with the aim of strengthening the support for this group. As a consequence, the first Suicide Prevention Clinics were set up in Denmark, an effort that Unni Bille-Brahe was actively involved in. In 1992, she organised the 4th 'European Symposium on Suicidal Behaviour' in Odense. Later, in 1996 she was actively involved in the Action Plan for Prevention of Suicidal Behaviour and Suicide on behalf of the Danish National Board of Health.

After retiring, Unni and others founded the National Association for the Bereaved by Suicide. This cause was particularly close to Unni's heart as she herself was bereaved by suicide. As the leader of the association, she worked to create attention lack of support and offers for people bereaved by suicide.

Unni was a keen reader of newspapers and subscribed to two daily papers to stay updated, which she always was. When giving her a new unpublished manuscript one could expect a phone call within few days where the weaknesses of the study would be carefully assessed. Despite her age not much escaped her attention.

She was engaged, outspoken, sharp-witted and caring. We will miss her dearly.


Annette Erlangsen, Anette Søgaard Nielsen & Merete Nordentoft

on behalf of DRISP