Päivitetty 03.03.2023

About the project

Young Despair focuses on violent, suicidal, and drug-induced deaths and near-miss cases of young people under 30. The examination of these most severe cases yields knowledge that can be used to prevent negative trajectories and to enhance an understanding of how inequality, exclusion, and overall ill-being play out in young peopleʼs lives. The project promotes conditions in which all young people have an opportunity for a meaningful life and no life is wasted. By studying death we gain the capacity to understand life as well as to protect it.

The project will generate a new, comprehensive knowledge base of youth in despair by applying and developing a method of social autopsy. This includes an extensive examination of the pathways of young people who died or nearly died from violent, suicidal, or drug-induced causes.

We draw on multiple data sources, such as linked registers, qualitative interviews, mini-ethnographies, and online discussions. In contrast to the earlier register-based trajectory paradigm, our data strategy aims at complementing the register-based data with other data sources to capture unregistered and more subtle social and cultural processes, mechanisms and turning points, thus helping to bridge the qualitative-quantitative divide and advancing the use of mixed methods.

By digging deep into each category of deaths, comparing the processes leading to different outcomes, using an advanced combination of open research methods, and processing the findings with stakeholders, the project will improve our understanding of how youth suicidal behavior, overdoses, and serious violence can be more efficiently prevented in the future. The expected scientific results will produce valuable contributions to the present literature on well-being and vulnerability of young people.

Work packages

WP 1 Management and coordination
WP2 Building the knowledge base on drug-induced deaths and non-fatal overdoses
WP3 Understanding and preventing serious violence among youth
WP4 Suicides: risk factors and prevention of suicidal behavior
WP5 Youth as service users
WP6 Data science
WP7 Communication and interaction


The research project is lead and coordinated by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL). Other consortium parties:

  • University of Helsinki / Faculty of Social Sciences
  • Tampere University / Faculty of Social Sciences
  • Finnish Youth Research Society
  • University of Turku / Department of Computing
  • A-Clinic Foundation


The project is funded by The Strategic Research Council (SRC) in the Academy of Finland.