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1.  Regional Changes in Charcoal-Burning Suicide Rates in East/Southeast Asia from 1995 to 2011: A Time Trend Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(4):e1001622.
Using a time trend analysis, Ying-Yeh Chen and colleagues examine the evidence for regional increases in charcoal-burning suicide rates in East and Southeast Asia from 1995 to 2011.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Suicides by carbon monoxide poisoning resulting from burning barbecue charcoal reached epidemic levels in Hong Kong and Taiwan within 5 y of the first reported cases in the early 2000s. The objectives of this analysis were to investigate (i) time trends and regional patterns of charcoal-burning suicide throughout East/Southeast Asia during the time period 1995–2011 and (ii) whether any rises in use of this method were associated with increases in overall suicide rates. Sex- and age-specific trends over time were also examined to identify the demographic groups showing the greatest increases in charcoal-burning suicide rates across different countries.
Methods and Findings
We used data on suicides by gases other than domestic gas for Hong Kong, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore in the years 1995/1996–2011. Similar data for Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand were also extracted but were incomplete. Graphical and joinpoint regression analyses were used to examine time trends in suicide, and negative binomial regression analysis to study sex- and age-specific patterns. In 1995/1996, charcoal-burning suicides accounted for <1% of all suicides in all study countries, except in Japan (5%), but they increased to account for 13%, 24%, 10%, 7%, and 5% of all suicides in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, the Republic of Korea, and Singapore, respectively, in 2011. Rises were first seen in Hong Kong after 1998 (95% CI 1997–1999), followed by Singapore in 1999 (95% CI 1998–2001), Taiwan in 2000 (95% CI 1999–2001), Japan in 2002 (95% CI 1999–2003), and the Republic of Korea in 2007 (95% CI 2006–2008). No marked increases were seen in Malaysia, the Philippines, or Thailand. There was some evidence that charcoal-burning suicides were associated with an increase in overall suicide rates in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Japan (for females), but not in Japan (for males), the Republic of Korea, and Singapore. Rates of change in charcoal-burning suicide rate did not differ by sex/age group in Taiwan and Hong Kong but appeared to be greatest in people aged 15–24 y in Japan and people aged 25–64 y in the Republic of Korea. The lack of specific codes for charcoal-burning suicide in the International Classification of Diseases and variations in coding practice in different countries are potential limitations of this study.
Conclusions
Charcoal-burning suicides increased markedly in some East/Southeast Asian countries (Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, the Republic of Korea, and Singapore) in the first decade of the 21st century, but such rises were not experienced by all countries in the region. In countries with a rise in charcoal-burning suicide rates, the timing, scale, and sex/age pattern of increases varied by country. Factors underlying these variations require further investigation, but may include differences in culture or in media portrayals of the method.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Every year, almost one million people die by suicide globally; suicide is the fifth leading cause of death in women aged 15–49 and the sixth leading cause of death in men in the same age group. Most people who take their own life are mentally ill. For others, stressful events (the loss of a partner, for example) have made life seem worthless or too painful to bear. Strategies to reduce suicide rates include better treatment of mental illness and programs that help people at high risk of suicide deal with stress. Suicide rates can also be reduced by limiting access to common suicide methods. These methods vary from place to place. Hanging is the predominant suicide method in many countries, but in Hong Kong, for example, jumping from a high building is the most common method. Suicide methods also vary over time. For example, after a woman in Hong Kong took her life in 1998 by burning barbecue charcoal in a sealed room (a process that produces the toxic gas carbon monoxide), charcoal burning rapidly went from being a rare method of killing oneself in Hong Kong to the second most common suicide method.
Why Was This Study Done?
Cases of charcoal-burning suicide have also been reported in several East and Southeast Asian countries, but there has been no systematic investigation of time trends and regional patterns of this form of suicide. A better understanding of regional changes in the number of charcoal-burning suicides might help to inform efforts to prevent the emergence of other new suicide methods. Here, the researchers investigate the time trends and regional patterns of charcoal-burning suicide in several countries in East and Southeast Asia between 1995 and 2011 and ask whether any rises in the use of this method are associated with increases in overall suicide rates. The researchers also investigate sex- and age-specific time trends in charcoal-burning suicides to identify which groups of people show the greatest increases in this form of suicide across different countries.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers analyzed method-specific data on suicide deaths for Hong Kong, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore between 1995/1996 and 2011 obtained from the World Health Organization Mortality Database and from national death registers. In 1995/1996, charcoal-burning suicides accounted for less than 1% of all suicides in all these countries except Japan (4.9%). By 2011, charcoal-burning suicides accounted for between 5% (Singapore) and 24% (Taiwan) of all suicides. Rises in the rate of charcoal-burning suicide were first seen in Hong Kong in 1999, in Singapore in 2000, in Taiwan in 2001, in Japan in 2003, and in the Republic of Korea in 2008. By contrast, incomplete data from Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand showed no evidence of a marked increase in charcoal-burning suicide in these countries over the same period. Charcoal-burning suicides were associated with an increase in overall suicide rates in Hong Kong in 1998–2003, in Taiwan in 2000–2006, and in Japanese women after 2003. Finally, the annual rate of change in charcoal-burning suicide rate did not differ by sex/age group in Taiwan and Hong Kong, whereas in Japan people aged 15–24 and in the Republic of Korea people aged 25–64 tended to have the greatest rates of increase.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that charcoal-burning suicides increased markedly in several but not all East and Southeast Asian countries during the first decade of the 21st century. Moreover, in countries where there was an increase, the timing, scale, and sex/age pattern of the increase varied by country. The accuracy of these findings is likely to be limited by several aspects of the study. For example, because of the way that method-specific suicides are recorded in the World Health Organization Mortality Database and national death registries, the researchers may have slightly overestimated the number of charcoal-burning suicides. Further studies are now needed to identify the factors that underlie the variations between countries in charcoal-burning suicide rates and time trends reported here. However, the current findings highlight the need to undertake surveillance to identify the emergence of new suicide methods and the importance of policy makers, the media, and internet service providers working together to restrict graphic and detailed descriptions of new suicide methods.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001622.
A PLOS Medicine research article by Shu-Sen Chang and colleagues investigates time trends and regional patterns of charcoal-burning suicide in Taiwan
The World Health Organization provides information on the global burden of suicide and on suicide prevention (in several languages); it also has an article on international patterns in methods of suicide
The US National Institute of Mental Health provides information on suicide and suicide prevention
The UK National Health Service Choices website has detailed information about suicide and its prevention
MedlinePlus provides links to further resources about suicide (in English and Spanish)
The International Association for Suicide Prevention provides links to crisis centers in Asia
The charity Healthtalkonline has personal stories about dealing with suicide
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001622
PMCID: PMC3972087  PMID: 24691071
2.  The Evolution of the Epidemic of Charcoal-Burning Suicide in Taiwan: A Spatial and Temporal Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(1):e1000212.
Shu-Sen Chang and colleagues describe the epidemiology of an epidemic of suicide by charcoal burning in Taiwan and discuss possible reasons for its spread.
Background
An epidemic of carbon monoxide poisoning suicide by burning barbecue charcoal has occurred in East Asia in the last decade. We investigated the spatial and temporal evolution of the epidemic to assess its impact on the epidemiology of suicide in Taiwan.
Methods and Findings
Age-standardised rates of suicide and undetermined death by charcoal burning were mapped across townships (median population aged 15 y or over = 27,000) in Taiwan for the periods 1999–2001, 2002–2004, and 2005–2007. Smoothed standardised mortality ratios of charcoal-burning and non-charcoal-burning suicide and undetermined death across townships were estimated using Bayesian hierarchical models. Trends in overall and method-specific rates were compared between urban and rural areas for the period 1991–2007. The epidemic of charcoal-burning suicide in Taiwan emerged more prominently in urban than rural areas, without a single point of origin, and rates of charcoal-burning suicide remained highest in the metropolitan regions throughout the epidemic. The rural excess in overall suicide rates prior to 1998 diminished as rates of charcoal-burning suicide increased to a greater extent in urban than rural areas.
Conclusions
The charcoal-burning epidemic has altered the geography of suicide in Taiwan. The observed pattern and its changes in the past decade suggest that widespread media coverage of this suicide method and easy access to barbecue charcoal may have contributed to the epidemic. Prevention strategies targeted at these factors, such as introducing and enforcing guidelines on media reporting and restricting access to charcoal, may help tackle the increase of charcoal-burning suicides.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Every year, about a million people take their own lives. Most people who die by suicide are mentally ill but some people take their lives because stressful events (the loss of a partner, for example) have made life seem worthless or too painful to bear. Strategies to reduce suicide rates include better treatment of mental illness and programs that help people at high risk of suicide deal with stress. Suicide rates can also be reduced by limiting access to common suicide methods. These methods differ from place to place. Hanging is the predominant suicide method in many countries but, in Hong Kong, for example, jumping from a high building is the commonest method. Suicide methods also vary over time. In 1998, a woman in Hong Kong took her life by burning barbecue charcoal in a sealed room (a process that produces high levels of the toxic gas carbon monoxide). This method was unheard of before and was extensively reported by the mass media; by the end of 2004, charcoal-burning suicide became the second most common form of suicide in Hong Kong.
Why Was This Study Done?
The epidemic of charcoal-burning suicide that started in Hong Kong has rapidly spread to other countries in East Asia, including Taiwan, where it is also now the second most common method of suicide. It would be useful to identify the factors that have contributed to the spread of this particular form of suicide because such knowledge might help to improve strategies for preventing charcoal-burning suicide. One way to identify these factors is to examine the space–time clustering of charcoal-burning suicides. Clustering of specific types of suicides in both time and space usually occurs in settings such as institutions where the individuals who die by suicide have been in social contact. By contrast, clustering of specific types of suicide in time more than place is often associated with media coverage of events such as celebrity suicides, which can lead to imitative suicides. In this study, therefore, the researchers investigate the evolution of the epidemic of charcoal-burning suicide over time and across areas in Taiwan.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers obtained data on suicides and undetermined deaths (most “missed” suicides are recorded as undetermined deaths) from 1999 to 2007 from the Taiwan Department of Health. They then used statistical methods to estimate the standardized mortality rates (the ratio of the observed to the expected numbers of deaths) of charcoal-burning and non-charcoal-burning suicides and undetermined deaths in different areas of Taiwan. The proportion of suicides that were charcoal-burning suicides rose from 0.1% in 1991 to 26.6% in 2007, they report, and the epidemic of charcoal-burning suicide was more marked in urban than in rural areas. However, there was no single point of origin of the epidemic. Finally, they report, rates of charcoal-burning suicide were consistently higher in urban than in rural areas throughout the study period, a result that means that, although overall suicide rates were higher in rural than in urban regions of Taiwan prior to the epidemic of charcoal-burning suicide, the difference has now almost disappeared.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that the epidemic of charcoal-burning suicide may underlie recent changes in the geography of suicide in Taiwan. However, the study's findings may not be numerically accurate because of some of the assumptions made by the researchers. For example, there is no specific code for charcoal-burning suicides in official records so the researchers assumed that suicides classified as “poisoning using nondomestic gas” were all charcoal-burning suicides, although other studies have shown that nearly 90% of deaths in the category were indeed charcoal-burning suicides. Nevertheless, the observed geographical pattern of charcoal-burning suicides and the changes in this pattern over time suggest that widespread media coverage and easy access to barbecue coal in supermarkets and convenience stores may have contributed to the epidemic of charcoal-burning suicide and to the increase in overall suicide rate in Taiwan and elsewhere in East Asia. Thus, guidelines that encourage responsible media reporting of charcoal-burning suicide (that is, reporting that does not contain detailed descriptions of the method or suggest that this type of suicide is easy and painless) and strategies that restrict access to barbecue charcoal may help to halt the epidemic of charcoal-burning suicide in East Asia.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000212.
Another PLoS Medicine research article by David Studdert and colleagues investigates the relationship between changes in vehicle emissions laws and the incidence of suicide by motor vehicle exhaust gas in Australia
The World Health Organization provides information on the global burden of suicide and on suicide prevention (in several languages); see also the article Methods of Suicide: International Suicide Patterns Derived from the WHO Mortality Database
The US National Institute of Mental Health provides information on suicide and suicide prevention
The UK National Health Service Choices website has detailed information about suicide and its prevention
MedlinePlus provides links to further resources about suicide (in English and Spanish)
The Taiwan Suicide Prevention Center provides information on suicide and its prevention in Taiwan (in Chinese)
The Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention, the University of Hong Kong, provides information on suicide and its prevention in Hong Kong (in Chinese and English)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000212
PMCID: PMC2794367  PMID: 20052273
3.  Charcoal burning suicides in Hong Kong and urban Taiwan: an illustration of the impact of a novel suicide method on overall regional rates 
Objectives
Following the first case in Hong Kong in 1998, the method of committing suicide by charcoal burning has spread to other communities. This aim of this study was to examine the impact of charcoal burning suicides on both overall suicide rates and older‐method suicide rates in Hong Kong and urban Taiwan.
Design
Trend analysis of the overall and method‐specific suicide rates between 1997 and 2002. Comparison of age and gender profiles of those who committed suicide by charcoal burning and other methods of suicide.
Setting
Hong Kong and Urban Taiwan.
Main results
Suicides by charcoal burning increased rapidly within five years in both Hong Kong and urban Taiwan. This increase was not paralleled by decreases in suicides by older methods and led to an increase of more than 20% in the overall suicide rates. Those in the 24–39 age range were more likely to choose charcoal burning than other methods.
Conclusions
The lack of parallel decreases in the suicides rates of older methods with the rise of charcoal burning suicides suggests limited substitution between the methods. The preponderance of the rise in suicide deaths associated with charcoal burning suggests that its invention, followed by wide media dissemination, may have specifically contributed to the increase in suicides in both regions. As a similar increase was found in urban Taiwan as in Hong Kong, charcoal burning suicide should not be viewed as merely a local health problem and has the potential to become a major public health threat in other countries.
doi:10.1136/jech.2006.048553
PMCID: PMC2652925  PMID: 17325404
4.  Relationship between Vehicle Emissions Laws and Incidence of Suicide by Motor Vehicle Exhaust Gas in Australia, 2001–06: An Ecological Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(1):e1000210.
In an ecological study, David Studdert and colleagues show that areas of Australia with fewer vehicles pre-dating stringent carbon monoxide emission laws have lower rates of suicide due to asphyxiation by motor vehicle exhaust gas.
Background
Globally, suicide accounts for 5.2% of deaths among persons aged 15 to 44 years and its incidence is rising. In Australia, suicide rates peaked in 1997 and have been declining since. A substantial part of that decline stems from a plunge in suicides by one particular method: asphyxiation by motor vehicle exhaust gas (MVEG). Although MVEG remains the second most common method of suicide in Australia, its incidence decreased by nearly 70% in the decade to 2006. The extent to which this phenomenon has been driven by national laws in 1986 and 1999 that lowered permissible levels of carbon monoxide (CO) emissions is unknown. The objective of this ecological study was to test the relationship by investigating whether areas of Australia with fewer noxious vehicles per capita experienced lower rates of MVEG suicide.
Methods and Findings
We merged data on MVEG suicides in Australia (2001–06) with data on the number and age of vehicles in the national fleet, as well as socio-demographic data from the national census. Poisson regression was used to analyse the relationship between the incidence of suicide within two levels of geographical area—postcodes and statistical subdivisions (SSDs)—and the population density of pre-1986 and pre-1999 passenger vehicles in those areas. (There was a mean population of 8,302 persons per postcode in the study dataset and 87,413 persons per SSD.) The annual incidence of MVEG suicides nationwide decreased by 57% (from 2.6 per 100,000 in 2001 to 1.1 in 2006) during the study period; the population density of pre-1986 and pre-1999 vehicles decreased by 55% (from 14.2 per 100 persons in 2001 to 6.4 in 2006) and 26% (from 44.5 per 100 persons in 2001 to 32.9 in 2006), respectively. Area-level regression analysis showed that the suicide rates were significantly and positively correlated with the presence of older vehicles. A percentage point decrease in the population density of pre-1986 vehicles was associated with a 6% decrease (rate ratio [RR] = 1.06; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.05–1.08) in the incidence of MVEG suicide within postcode areas; a percentage point decrease in the population density of pre-1999 vehicles was associated with a 3% decrease (RR = 1.03; 95% CI 1.02–1.04) in the incidence of MVEG suicide.
Conclusions
Areas of Australia with fewer vehicles predating stringent CO emission laws experience lower rates of MVEG suicide. Although those emission laws were introduced primarily for environmental reasons, countries that lack them may miss the benefits of a serendipitous suicide prevention strategy.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Suicide (self-inflicted death) is a major, preventable public-health problem. About 1 million people die each year from suicide and about 20 times as many people attempt suicide. Globally, suicide rates have increased by nearly a half over the past 45 years and suicide is now among the three leading causes of death in people aged 15–44 years. Within this age group, 1 in 20 deaths is a suicide. Most people who commit suicide have a mental illness, usually depression or substance abuse, but suicide can also be triggered by a stressful event such as losing a partner. Often warning signs are present—a person who talks about killing themselves must always be taken seriously. Adequate prevention and treatment of mental illness and interventions that teach young people coping skills and improve their self-esteem have shown promise in reducing suicide rates, as have strategies (for example, restrictions on the sale of pain killers) that reduce access to common methods of suicide.
Why Was This Study Done?
In Australia, the suicide rate has been declining since 1997 when a record 2,722 suicides occurred. Fewer suicides by asphyxiation (oxygen deprivation) by motor vehicle gas exhaust (MVEG) account for much of this decline. MVEG contains carbon monoxide, a toxic gas that blocks oxygen transport around the body. Although MVEG suicide is still the second most common means of suicide in Australia, its incidence has dropped by two-thirds since 1997 but why? One possibility is that national laws passed in 1986 and 1999 that lowered the permissible level of carbon monoxide in vehicle exhaust for environmental reasons have driven the decline in MVEG suicides. Evidence from other countries suggests that this might be the case but no-one has directly investigated the relationship between MVEG suicide and the use of vehicles with reduced carbon monoxide emissions. In this ecological study (a study in which the effect of an intervention is studied on groups of people rather than on individuals), the researchers ask whether the number of pre-1986 and pre-1999 vehicles within particular geographic areas in Australia is correlated with the rates of MVEG suicide in those areas between 2001 and 2006.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers obtained data on MVEG suicides from the Australian National Coroners Information System and data on the number and age of vehicles on the road from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. MVEG suicides dropped from 498 in 2001 to 231 in 2006, they report, and 28% of passenger vehicles registered in Australia were made before 1986 in 2001 but only 12% in 2006; the percentage of registered vehicles made before 1999 fell from 89% to 60% over the same period. The researchers then used a statistical technique called Poisson regression to analyze the relationship within postcode areas between the incidence of MVEG suicide and the presence of pre-1986 and pre-1999 vehicles. This analysis showed that in areas where older vehicles were more numerous there were more MVEG suicides (a positive correlation). Specifically, the researchers calculate that if the proportion of pre-1986 vehicles on the road in Australia had stayed at 2001 levels throughout their study period, 621 extra MVEG suicides would have occurred in the country over that time.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that in areas of Australia that had fewer vehicles on the road predating stringent vehicle emission laws, there were lower rates of MVEG suicide between 2001 and 2006. Unfortunately, this study cannot provide any information on the actual age of vehicles used in MVEG suicides or on the relationship between vehicle age and attempted MVEG suicides. It also cannot reveal whether those areas that had the sharpest decreases in the density of older vehicles had the sharpest decreases in suicide rates because very few suicides occurred in most postcodes during the study. Most importantly, the design of this study means that the researchers cannot discount the possibility that the changes in Australia's emission laws have steered people towards other methods of taking their own lives. Nevertheless, the findings of this study suggest that the introduction of stringent vehicle emission laws for environmental reasons might, serendipitously, be a worthwhile long-term suicide prevention strategy in countries where MVEG suicide is common.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000210.
Another PLoS Medicine research article, by Shu-Sen Chang and colleagues, investigates the evolution of the epidemic of charcoal-burning suicide in Taiwan
The US National Institute of Mental Health provides information on suicide and suicide prevention
The UK National Health Service Choices Web site has detailed information about suicide and its prevention
The World Health Organization provides information on the global burden of suicide and on suicide prevention (in several languages)
MedlinePlus provides links to further resources about suicide (in English and Spanish)
Suicide Prevention Australia is a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization working as a public-health advocate in suicide prevention
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has recently published a review of suicide statistics in Australia
The National Coroners Information System is a database contains information on every death reported to an Australian coroner since July 2000 (January 2001 for Queensland)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000210
PMCID: PMC2796388  PMID: 20052278
5.  Suicide and unemployment in Italy, 1982-1994 
OBJECTIVE: To investigate whether either the condition of being unemployed, or changes in unemployment rates are associated with suicide risk. DESIGN: Administrative data for suicide according to occupational status have been analysed considering three employment categories: employed, seeking new job (unemployed), seeking first job (never employed). Comparison of suicide rates by economic position and correlation between suicide and unemployment rates have been made. SUBJECTS AND SETTINGS: 20,457 deaths by suicide registered in Italy among economically active people from 1982 to 1994. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Change over time in suicide rates by economic position; coefficient of aggravation according to occupational status. RESULTS: Suicide rates among the unemployed are clearly and constantly higher than those among the employed: up to three times higher among men, and twice as high among women. Among the unemployed a clear and significant rise in suicide rates in both sexes took place over the study period; suicide rates among the employed showed a less marked increase. The rise in suicide rates was accompanied by a concurrent rise in unemployment rate percentage. Men seem to be affected most by this change in unemployment rate percentage; women are subject to less evident influences and variations. CONCLUSION: Different suicidal behaviour trends among unemployed compared with employed people indicate that unemployment (and above all the prospect of not having access to a working role) acts as a contributing factor for suicide. Unemployment, even if symptomatic of a mental disorder, should therefore always be taken into consideration as a risk factor for suicide: the potentially lethal consequences of its negative influence on both self esteem and the ability to use supportive networks in a efficient way is an element to which great attention should be paid.
 
PMCID: PMC1756805  PMID: 10656098
6.  Suicide epidemics: the impact of newly emerging methods on overall suicide rates - a time trends study 
BMC Public Health  2011;11:314.
Background
The impact of newly emerging, popular suicide methods on overall rates of suicide has not previously been investigated systematically. Understanding these effects may have important implications for public health surveillance. We examine the emergence of three novel methods of suicide by gassing in the 20th and 21st centuries and determine the impact of emerging methods on overall suicide rates.
Methods
We studied the epidemic rises in domestic coal gas (1919-1935, England and Wales), motor vehicle exhaust gas (1975-1992, England and Wales) and barbecue charcoal gas (1999-2006, Taiwan) suicide using Poisson and joinpoint regression models. Joinpoint regression uses contiguous linear segments and join points (points at which trends change) to describe trends in incidence.
Results
Epidemic increases in the use of new methods of suicide were generally associated with rises in overall suicide rates of between 23% and 71%. The recent epidemic of barbecue charcoal suicides in Taiwan was associated with the largest rise in overall rates (40-50% annual rise), whereas the smallest rise was seen for car exhaust gassing in England and Wales (7% annual rise). Joinpoint analyses were only feasible for car exhaust and charcoal burning suicides; these suggested an impact of the emergence of car exhaust suicides on overall suicide rates in both sexes in England and Wales. However there was no statistical evidence of a change in the already increasing overall suicide trends when charcoal burning suicides emerged in Taiwan, possibly due to the concurrent economic recession.
Conclusions
Rapid rises in the use of new sources of gas for suicide were generally associated with increases in overall suicide rates. Suicide prevention strategies should include strengthening local and national surveillance for early detection of novel suicide methods and implementation of effective media guidelines and other appropriate interventions to limit the spread of new methods.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-314
PMCID: PMC3112128  PMID: 21569569
7.  Depressive symptoms and suicide in 56,000 older Chinese: a Hong Kong cohort study 
Objective
To examine dose–response associations between depressive symptoms and suicide and modification effects of sex, age and health status in older Chinese.
Methods
We used the Chinese version of the 15-item Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS) to measure depressive symptoms (GDS score ≥ 8) and Cox regression to examine association with suicide mortality in a population-based cohort of 55,946 individuals, aged 65 years or above, enrolled from July 1998 to December 2000 at one of 18 Elderly Health Centres of Hong Kong Department of Health. The cohort was followed up for suicide mortality till 31 March 2009 (mean follow-up 8.7 years).
Results
Depressive symptoms were associated with suicide in men [hazard ratio (HR) 2.03, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.96–4.29] and women (HR = 2.36, 95% CI 1.31–4.24) after adjusting for age, education, monthly expenditure, smoking, alcohol drinking, physical activity, body mass index, health status, and self-rated health. There was no threshold for GDS score and suicide in either sex. Age, sex and health status did not modify the association.
Conclusions
Depressive symptoms predict higher suicide risk in older Chinese in a dose–response pattern. These associations were not attenuated by adjustment for health status, suggesting that depressive symptoms in older people are likely to be an independent causal factor for suicide. The GDS score showed no threshold in predicting suicide risk, suggesting that older people with low GDS scores deserve further attention and those with very high scores need urgent intervention.
doi:10.1007/s00127-011-0362-z
PMCID: PMC3304054  PMID: 21384121
Depressive symptoms; Geriatric Depression Scale; Suicide
8.  Cross-National Analysis of the Associations among Mental Disorders and Suicidal Behavior: Findings from the WHO World Mental Health Surveys 
PLoS Medicine  2009;6(8):e1000123.
Using data from over 100,000 individuals in 21 countries participating in the WHO World Mental Health Surveys, Matthew Nock and colleagues investigate which mental health disorders increase the odds of experiencing suicidal thoughts and actual suicide attempts, and how these relationships differ across developed and developing countries.
Background
Suicide is a leading cause of death worldwide. Mental disorders are among the strongest predictors of suicide; however, little is known about which disorders are uniquely predictive of suicidal behavior, the extent to which disorders predict suicide attempts beyond their association with suicidal thoughts, and whether these associations are similar across developed and developing countries. This study was designed to test each of these questions with a focus on nonfatal suicide attempts.
Methods and Findings
Data on the lifetime presence and age-of-onset of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition (DSM-IV) mental disorders and nonfatal suicidal behaviors were collected via structured face-to-face interviews with 108,664 respondents from 21 countries participating in the WHO World Mental Health Surveys. The results show that each lifetime disorder examined significantly predicts the subsequent first onset of suicide attempt (odds ratios [ORs] = 2.9–8.9). After controlling for comorbidity, these associations decreased substantially (ORs = 1.5–5.6) but remained significant in most cases. Overall, mental disorders were equally predictive in developed and developing countries, with a key difference being that the strongest predictors of suicide attempts in developed countries were mood disorders, whereas in developing countries impulse-control, substance use, and post-traumatic stress disorders were most predictive. Disaggregation of the associations between mental disorders and nonfatal suicide attempts showed that these associations are largely due to disorders predicting the onset of suicidal thoughts rather than predicting progression from thoughts to attempts. In the few instances where mental disorders predicted the transition from suicidal thoughts to attempts, the significant disorders are characterized by anxiety and poor impulse-control. The limitations of this study include the use of retrospective self-reports of lifetime occurrence and age-of-onset of mental disorders and suicidal behaviors, as well as the narrow focus on mental disorders as predictors of nonfatal suicidal behaviors, each of which must be addressed in future studies.
Conclusions
This study found that a wide range of mental disorders increased the odds of experiencing suicide ideation. However, after controlling for psychiatric comorbidity, only disorders characterized by anxiety and poor impulse-control predict which people with suicide ideation act on such thoughts. These findings provide a more fine-grained understanding of the associations between mental disorders and subsequent suicidal behavior than previously available and indicate that mental disorders predict suicidal behaviors similarly in both developed and developing countries. Future research is needed to delineate the mechanisms through which people come to think about suicide and subsequently progress from ideation to attempts.
Please see later in the article for Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Suicide is a leading cause of death worldwide. Every 40 seconds, someone somewhere commits suicide. Over a year, this adds up to about 1 million self-inflicted deaths. In the USA, for example, where suicide is the 11th leading cause of death, more than 30,000 people commit suicide every year. The figures for nonfatal suicidal behavior (suicidal thoughts or ideation, suicide planning, and suicide attempts) are even more shocking. Globally, suicide attempts, for example, are estimated to be 20 times as frequent as completed suicides. Risk factors for nonfatal suicidal behaviors and for suicide include depression and other mental disorders, alcohol or drug abuse, stressful life events, a family history of suicide, and having a friend or relative commit suicide. Importantly, nonfatal suicidal behaviors are powerful predictors of subsequent suicide deaths so individuals who talk about killing themselves must always be taken seriously and given as much help as possible by friends, relatives, and mental-health professionals.
Why Was This Study Done?
Experts believe that it might be possible to find ways to decrease suicide rates by answering three questions. First, which individual mental disorders are predictive of nonfatal suicidal behaviors? Although previous studies have reported that virtually all mental disorders are associated with an increased risk of suicidal behaviors, people often have two or more mental disorders (“comorbidity”), so many of these associations may reflect the effects of only a few disorders. Second, do some mental disorders predict suicidal ideation whereas others predict who will act on these thoughts? Finally, are the associations between mental disorders and suicidal behavior similar in developed countries (where most studies have been done) and in developing countries? By answering these questions, it should be possible to improve the screening, clinical risk assessment, and treatment of suicide around the world. Thus, in this study, the researchers undertake a cross-national analysis of the associations among mental disorders (as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition [DSM-IV]) and nonfatal suicidal behaviors.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers collected and analyzed data on the lifetime presence and age-of-onset of mental disorders and of nonfatal suicidal behaviors in structured interviews with nearly 110,000 participants from 21 countries (part of the World Health Organization's World Mental Health Survey Initiative). The lifetime presence of each of the 16 disorders considered (mood disorders such as depression; anxiety disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder [PTSD]; impulse-control disorders such as attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder; and substance misuse) predicted first suicide attempts in both developed and developing countries. However, the increased risk of a suicide attempt associated with each disorder varied. So, for example, in developed countries, after controlling for comorbid mental disorders, major depression increased the risk of a suicide attempt 3-fold but drug abuse/dependency increased the risk only 2-fold. Similarly, although the strongest predictors of suicide attempts in developed countries were mood disorders, in developing countries the strongest predictors were impulse-control disorders, substance misuse disorders, and PTSD. Other analyses indicate that mental disorders were generally more predictive of the onset of suicidal thoughts than of suicide plans and attempts, but that anxiety and poor impulse-control disorders were the strongest predictors of suicide attempts in both developed and developing countries.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Although this study has several limitations—for example, it relies on retrospective self-reports by study participants—its findings nevertheless provide a more detailed understanding of the associations between mental disorders and subsequent suicidal behaviors than previously available. In particular, its findings reveal that a wide range of individual mental disorders increase the chances of an individual thinking about suicide in both developed and developing countries and provide new information about the mental disorders that predict which people with suicidal ideas will act on such thoughts. However, the findings also show that only half of people who have seriously considered killing themselves have a mental disorder. Thus although future suicide prevention efforts should include a focus on screening and treating mental disorders, ways must also be found to identify the many people without mental disorders who are at risk of suicidal behaviors.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000123.
The US National Institute of Mental Health provides information about suicide in the US: statistics and prevention
The UK National Health Service provides information about suicide, including statistics about suicide in the UK and links to other resources
The World Health Organization provides global statistics about suicide and information on suicide prevention
MedlinePlus provides links to further information and advice about suicide and about mental health (in English and Spanish)
Further details about the World Mental Health Survey Initiative and about DSM-IV are available
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000123
PMCID: PMC2717212  PMID: 19668361
9.  The Impact of Media Reporting on the Emergence of Charcoal Burning Suicide in Taiwan 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e55000.
We investigated the association of the intensity of newspaper reporting of charcoal burning suicide with the incidence of such deaths in Taiwan during 1998–2002. A counting process approach was used to estimate the incidence of suicides and intensity of news reporting. Conditional Poisson generalized linear autoregressive models were performed to assess the association of the intensity of newspaper reporting of charcoal burning and non-charcoal burning suicides with the actual number of charcoal burning and non-charcoal burning suicides the following day. We found that increases in the reporting of charcoal burning suicide were associated with increases in the incidence of charcoal burning suicide on the following day, with each reported charcoal burning news item being associated with a 16% increase in next day charcoal burning suicide (p<.0001). However, the reporting of other methods of suicide was not related to their incidence. We conclude that extensive media reporting of charcoal burning suicides appears to have contributed to the rapid rise in the incidence of the novel method in Taiwan during the initial stage of the suicide epidemic. Regulating media reporting of novel suicide methods may prevent an epidemic spread of such new methods.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0055000
PMCID: PMC3559477  PMID: 23383027
10.  The foxconn suicides and their media prominence: is the werther effect applicable in china? 
BMC Public Health  2011;11:841.
Background
Media reporting of suicide and its relationship with actual suicide has rarely been investigated in Mainland China. The "Foxconn suicides" is a description referring to a string of suicides/attempts during 2010, all of which were related to a giant electrical manufacturing company, Foxconn. This study aimed to examine the clustering and copycat effects of the Foxconn suicides, and to investigate temporal patterns in how they were reported by the media in Mainland China, Hong Kong (HK), and Taiwan (TW).
Methods
Relevant articles were collected from representative newspapers published in three big cities in Mainland China (Beijing (BJ), Shenzhen (SZ), and Guangzhou (GZ)), HK, and TW, together with searching intensity data on the topic conducted using the Baidu search engine in Mainland China. The temporal clustering effects of the Foxconn suicides and their media prominence were assessed using the Kolmogorov-Smirnov test. The media reports of the Foxconn suicides' temporal patterns were explored using a nonparametric curve estimation method (that is, the local linear method). The potential mutual interactions between the Foxconn suicides and their media prominence were also examined, using logistic and Poisson regression methods.
Results
The results support a temporal clustering effect for the Foxconn suicides. The BJ-based newspapers' reporting and the occurrence of a Foxconn suicide/attempt are each found to be associated with an elevated chance of a further Foxconn suicide 3 days later. The occurrence of a Foxconn suicide also immediately influenced the intensity of both Baidu searching and newspaper reporting. Regional diversity in suicide reporting tempo-patterns within Mainland China, and similarities between HK and TW, are also demonstrated.
Conclusions
The Foxconn suicides were temporally clustered. Their occurrences were influenced by the reporting of BJ-based newspapers, and contagion within the company itself. Further suicide research and prevention work in China should consider its special media environment.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-841
PMCID: PMC3233608  PMID: 22044598
11.  Suicide Methods in Asia: Implications in Suicide Prevention 
As the largest continent in the World, Asia accounts for about 60% of World suicides. Preventing suicide by restricting access to suicide methods is one of the few evidence-based suicide prevention strategies. However, there has been a lack of systematic exploration of suicide methods in Asian countries. To amend this shortage, the current review examines the leading suicide methods in different Asian countries, their trend, their age- and sex- specific characteristics, and their implications for suicide prevention. In total, 42 articles with leading suicide methods data in 17 Asian countries/regions were retrieved. The epidemiologic characteristics and recent trends of common suicide methods reflect specific socio-cultural, economic, and religious situations in the region. Common suicide methods shift with the introduction of technologies and constructions, and have specific age- or sex-characteristics that may render the restriction of suicide methods not equally effective for all sex and age sub-groups. Charcoal burning, pesticide poisoning, native plant poisoning, self-immolation, and jumping are all prominent examples. In the information society, suicide prevention that focuses on suicide methods must monitor and control the innovation and spread of knowledge and practices of suicide “technologies”. It may be more cost-effective to design safety into technologies as a way of suicide prevention while there is no rash of suicides yet by the new technologies. Further research on suicide methods is important for public health approaches to suicide prevention with sensitivity to socio-cultural, economic, and religious factors in different countries.
doi:10.3390/ijerph9041135
PMCID: PMC3366604  PMID: 22690187
suicide; suicide method; Asia; trend; age; sex; technology; information; media; culture; religion; economic; public health
12.  Variation and seasonal patterns of suicide mortality in Finland and Sweden since the 1750s 
Objectives
Suicide mortality varies in both the short and long term. Our study examines suicide mortality in Finland and Sweden from the 1750s until today. The aim of our study is to detect any seasonal peaks in suicide rates and examine their temporal evolution to suggest a mechanism that may explain such peaks.
Method
We acquired the study material from the Finnish and Swedish cause of death statistics (257,341 deaths by suicide) and the relevant population gender structure data. We then separately calculated the annual male and female suicide rates per 100,000 inhabitants. We analysed the suicide peaks, calculating factors of proportionality for the available data by dividing the suicide rates in the peak months (May and October) by the annual suicide rates.
Results
Suicide rates in Finland and Sweden peak twice a year. Both men and women in both countries most often commit suicide in May. There is another peak in October, with the exception of Finnish men. These suicide peaks coincide with a temperature increase in May and the biggest annual drop in temperature in October. We also observed a monotonic long-term change in the Swedish statistics, but not in the Finnish data. Our hypothesis is that seasonal variation in suicide rates may be caused by abrupt temperature changes twice a year that trigger the activity in brown adipose tissue and deepen depression.
Conclusion
While the overall suicide mortality rates varied considerably, the monthly proportions in May did not. This finding suggests a routine factor underlying the spring peak in suicide mortality.
doi:10.1007/s12199-013-0348-4
PMCID: PMC3824731  PMID: 23835646
Population; Season; Suicide rate; Thermal stress; Time
13.  Behaviour patterns preceding a railway suicide: Explorative study of German Federal Police officers' experiences 
BMC Public Health  2011;11:620.
Background
Constant high-level numbers of railway suicides indicate that prevention strategies against railway suicides are urgently needed. The main question of the present study was whether pre-crash railway suicide behaviour can be identified, using German Federal Police officers experience with suicidal events in railway related environments.
Methods
To collect information on pre-crash railway suicide behaviour, a questionnaire was used and made available on the German Federal Police intranet. A total of 202 subjects (mean age: 41 years, sex: 84.9% male) were included in the analysis. Multivariate logistic regression analyses were performed to predict the prevention of suicide (first model) or demand for counselling (second model) as outcomes. Sex, age, years of service, number of experienced suicides, suicides personally observed, information on suicides obtained from witnesses and finally either counselling/debriefing (first model) or whether officers had prevented a suicide (second model) were used as predictors.
Results
A considerable proportion of police officers reported behavioural patterns preceding a suicide. Half of them observed the dropping or leaving behind of personal belongings or the avoidance of eye contact, more than a third erratic gesture, mimic or movement. Erratic communication patterns and general confusion were each reported by about one quarter. One fifth indicated the influence of alcohol. Less frequently observed behaviour was aimlessly wandering (14.3%) and out of the ordinary clothing (4%). About one third of all railway suicide victims committed suicide in stations. Of those, 70% had chosen an eminent spot. The multivariate logistic regression model using prevented suicides as the outcome identified the number of suicides experienced, counselling/debriefing and having personally observed a suicide as variables with significant impact. The model using counselling/debriefing as the outcome identified age and having prevented a suicide as variables with a significant association.
Conclusions
Our results provide evidence that railway suicides are preceded by identifiable behavioural patterns. This emphasizes the importance of educational efforts, taking into account the knowledge and skills of experienced police officers.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-620
PMCID: PMC3199597  PMID: 21816069
14.  Intimate Partner Violence and Incident Depressive Symptoms and Suicide Attempts: A Systematic Review of Longitudinal Studies 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(5):e1001439.
Karen Devries and colleagues conduct a systematic review of longitudinal studies to evaluate the direction of association between symptoms of depression and intimate partner violence.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Depression and suicide are responsible for a substantial burden of disease globally. Evidence suggests that intimate partner violence (IPV) experience is associated with increased risk of depression, but also that people with mental disorders are at increased risk of violence. We aimed to investigate the extent to which IPV experience is associated with incident depression and suicide attempts, and vice versa, in both women and men.
Methods and Findings
We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of longitudinal studies published before February 1, 2013. More than 22,000 records from 20 databases were searched for studies examining physical and/or sexual intimate partner or dating violence and symptoms of depression, diagnosed major depressive disorder, dysthymia, mild depression, or suicide attempts. Random effects meta-analyses were used to generate pooled odds ratios (ORs). Sixteen studies with 36,163 participants met our inclusion criteria. All studies included female participants; four studies also included male participants. Few controlled for key potential confounders other than demographics. All but one depression study measured only depressive symptoms. For women, there was clear evidence of an association between IPV and incident depressive symptoms, with 12 of 13 studies showing a positive direction of association and 11 reaching statistical significance; pooled OR from six studies = 1.97 (95% CI 1.56–2.48, I2 = 50.4%, pheterogeneity = 0.073). There was also evidence of an association in the reverse direction between depressive symptoms and incident IPV (pooled OR from four studies = 1.93, 95% CI 1.51–2.48, I2 = 0%, p = 0.481). IPV was also associated with incident suicide attempts. For men, evidence suggested that IPV was associated with incident depressive symptoms, but there was no clear evidence of an association between IPV and suicide attempts or depression and incident IPV.
Conclusions
In women, IPV was associated with incident depressive symptoms, and depressive symptoms with incident IPV. IPV was associated with incident suicide attempts. In men, few studies were conducted, but evidence suggested IPV was associated with incident depressive symptoms. There was no clear evidence of association with suicide attempts.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Depression and suicide are responsible for a substantial proportion of the global disease burden. Depression—an overwhelming feeling of sadness and hopelessness that can last for months or years—affects more than 350 million people worldwide. It is the eleventh leading cause of global disability-adjusted life-years (a measure of overall disease burden), and it affects one in six people at some time during their lives. Globally, about a million people commit suicide every year, usually because they have depression or some other mental illness. Notably, in cross-sectional studies (investigations that look at a population at a single time point), experience of intimate partner violence (IPV, also called domestic violence) is strongly and consistently associated with both depressive disorders and suicide. IPV, like depression and suicide, is extremely common—in multi-country studies, 15%–71% of women report being physically assaulted at some time during their lifetime. IPV is defined as physical, sexual, or psychological harm by a current or former partner or spouse; men as well as women can be the victims of IPV.
Why Was This Study Done?
It may seem obvious to assume that IPV is causally related to subsequent depression and suicidal behavior. However, cross-sectional studies provide no information about causality, and it is possible that depression and/or suicide attempts cause subsequent IPV or that there are common risk factors for IPV, depression, and suicide. For example, individuals with depressive symptoms may be more accepting of partners with characteristics that predispose them to use violence, or early life exposure to violence may predispose individuals to both depression and choosing violent partners. Here, as part of the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010, the researchers investigate the extent to which experience of IPV is associated with subsequent depression and suicide attempts and vice versa in both men and women by undertaking a systematic review and meta-analysis of longitudinal studies that have examined IPV, depression, and suicide attempts. A systematic review uses predefined criteria to identify all the research on a given topic, meta-analysis combines the results of several studies, and longitudinal studies track people over time to investigate associations between specific characteristics and outcomes.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 16 longitudinal studies involving a total of 36,163 participants that met their inclusion criteria. All the studies included women, but only four also included men. All the studies were undertaken in high- and middle-income countries. For women, 11 studies showed a statistically significant association (an association unlikely to have occurred by chance) between IPV and subsequent depressive symptoms. In a meta-analysis of six studies, experience of IPV nearly doubled the risk of women subsequently reporting depressive symptoms. In addition, there was evidence of an association in the reverse direction. In a meta-analysis of four studies, depressive symptoms nearly doubled the risk of women subsequently experiencing IPV. IPV was also associated with subsequent suicide attempts among women. For men, there was some evidence from two studies that IPV was associated with depressive symptoms but no evidence for an association between IPV and subsequent suicide attempt or between depressive symptoms and subsequent IPV.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that women who are exposed to IPV are at increased risk of subsequent depression and that women who are depressed are more likely to be at risk of IPV. They also provide evidence of an association between IPV and subsequent suicide attempt for women. The study provides little evidence for similar relationships among men, but additional studies are needed to confirm this finding. Moreover, the accuracy of these findings is likely to be affected by several limitations of the study. For example, few of the included studies controlled for other factors that might have affected both exposure to IPV and depressive symptoms, and none of the studies considered the effect of emotional violence on depressive symptoms and suicide attempts. Nevertheless, these findings have two important implications. First, they suggest that preventing violence against women has the potential to reduce the global burden of disease related to depression and suicide. Second, they suggest that clinicians should pay attention to past experiences of violence and the risk of future violence when treating women who present with symptoms of depression.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001439.
This study is further discussed in a PLOS Medicine Perspective by Alexander Tsai
The US National Institute of Mental Health provides information on all aspects of depression and of suicide and suicide prevention (in English and Spanish)
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides detailed information about depression, including personal stories about depression, and information on suicide and its prevention; it has a webpage about domestic violence, which includes descriptions of personal experiences
The World Health Organization provides information on depression, on the global burden of suicide and on suicide prevention, and on intimate partner violence (some information in several languages)
MedlinePlus provides links to other resources about depression, suicide, and domestic violence (in English and Spanish)
The charity Healthtalkonline has personal stories about depression and about dealing with suicide
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001439
PMCID: PMC3646718  PMID: 23671407
15.  Acute Human Lethal Toxicity of Agricultural Pesticides: A Prospective Cohort Study 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(10):e1000357.
In a prospective cohort study of patients presenting with pesticide self-poisoning, Andrew Dawson and colleagues investigate the relative human toxicity of agricultural pesticides and contrast it with WHO toxicity classifications, which are based on toxicity in rats.
Background
Agricultural pesticide poisoning is a major public health problem in the developing world, killing at least 250,000–370,000 people each year. Targeted pesticide restrictions in Sri Lanka over the last 20 years have reduced pesticide deaths by 50% without decreasing agricultural output. However, regulatory decisions have thus far not been based on the human toxicity of formulated agricultural pesticides but on the surrogate of rat toxicity using pure unformulated pesticides. We aimed to determine the relative human toxicity of formulated agricultural pesticides to improve the effectiveness of regulatory policy.
Methods and Findings
We examined the case fatality of different agricultural pesticides in a prospective cohort of patients presenting with pesticide self-poisoning to two clinical trial centers from April 2002 to November 2008. Identification of the pesticide ingested was based on history or positive identification of the container. A single pesticide was ingested by 9,302 patients. A specific pesticide was identified in 7,461 patients; 1,841 ingested an unknown pesticide. In a subset of 808 patients, the history of ingestion was confirmed by laboratory analysis in 95% of patients. There was a large variation in case fatality between pesticides—from 0% to 42%. This marked variation in lethality was observed for compounds within the same chemical and/or WHO toxicity classification of pesticides and for those used for similar agricultural indications.
Conclusion
The human data provided toxicity rankings for some pesticides that contrasted strongly with the WHO toxicity classification based on rat toxicity. Basing regulation on human toxicity will make pesticide poisoning less hazardous, preventing hundreds of thousands of deaths globally without compromising agricultural needs. Ongoing monitoring of patterns of use and clinical toxicity for new pesticides is needed to identify highly toxic pesticides in a timely manner.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Suicide is a preventable global public health problem. About 1 million people die each year from suicide and many more harm themselves but survive. Although many people who commit suicide have a mental illness, stressful events (economic hardship or relationship difficulties, for example) can sometimes make life seem too painful to bear. Suicide attempts are frequently impulsive and use methods that are conveniently accessible. Strategies to reduce suicide rates include better treatment of mental illness and programs that help people at high risk of suicide deal with stress. Suicide rates can also be reduced by limiting access to common suicide methods. The single most important means of suicide worldwide is agricultural pesticide poisoning. Every year, between 250,000 and 370,000 people die from deliberate ingestion of pesticides (chemicals that kill animal pests or unwanted plants). Most of these suicides occur in rural areas of the developing world where high levels of pesticide use in agriculture combined with pesticide storage at home facilitate this particular method of suicide.
Why Was This Study Done?
To help reduce suicides through the ingestion of agricultural pesticides, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations recommends the withdrawal of the most toxic pesticides—World Health Organization (WHO) class I pesticides—from agricultural use. This strategy has proven successful in Sri Lanka where a ban on class I pesticides in 1995 and on the class II pesticide endosulfan in 1998 has reduced pesticide deaths by 50% over the past 20 years without decreasing agricultural output. Further reductions in suicides from pesticide ingestion could be achieved if regulatory restrictions on the sale and distribution of the most toxic class II pesticides were imposed. But such restrictions must balance agricultural needs against the impact of pesticides on public health. Unfortunately, the current WHO pesticide classification is based on toxicity in rats. Because rats handle pesticides differently from people, there is no guarantee that a pesticide with low toxicity in rodents is safe in people. Here, the researchers try to determine the relative human toxicity of agricultural pesticides in a prospective cohort study (a study in which people who share a characteristic—in this case, deliberate pesticide ingestion—are enrolled and followed to see how they fare).
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers examined the case fatality (the proportion of patients dying after hospital admission) of different agricultural pesticides among patients who presented with pesticide self-poisoning at two Sri Lankan referral hospitals. Between April 2002 and November 2008, 9,302 people were admitted to the hospitals after swallowing a single pesticide. The researchers identified the pesticide ingested in 7,461 cases by asking the patient what he/she had taken or by identifying the container brought in by the patient or relatives. 10% of the patients died but there was a large variation in case fatality between pesticides. The herbicide paraquat was the most lethal pesticide, killing 42% of patients; several other pesticides killed no one. Compounds in the same chemical class and/or the same WHO toxicity class sometimes had very different toxicities. For example, dimethoate and malathione, both class II organophosphate insecticides, had case fatalities of 20.6% and 1.9%, respectively. Similarly, pesticides used for similar agricultural purposes sometimes had very different case fatalities.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings provide a toxicity ranking for pesticides that deviates markedly from the WHO toxicity classification based on rat toxicity. Although the findings are based on a study undertaken at just two Sri Lankan hospitals, they are likely to be generalizable to other hospitals and to other parts of rural Asia. However, because the study only included patients who were admitted to hospital after ingesting pesticides, the actual case fatalities for some pesticides may be somewhat different. Nevertheless, these findings have several important public health implications. For example, they suggest that the decision taken in January 2008 to withdraw paraquat, dimethoate, and fenthion from the Sri Lankan market should reduce deaths from pesticide poisoning in Sri Lanka by a further 33%–65% (equivalent to about 1,000 fewer suicides per year). More generally, they suggest that basing the regulation of pesticides on human toxicity has the potential to prevent hundreds and thousands of intentional and accidental deaths globally without compromising agricultural needs.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000357.
This study is further discussed in a PLoS Medicine Perspective by Matt Miller and Kavi Bhalla
The World Health Organization provides information on the global burden of suicide and on suicide prevention (in several languages) and on its classification of pesticides
The US Environmental Protection Agency provides information about all aspects of pesticides (in English and Spanish)
Toxtown, an interactive site from the US National Library of Science, provides information on environmental health concerns including exposure to pesticides (in English and Spanish)
The nonprofit organization Pesticide Action Network UK provides information about all aspects of pesticides
The US National Pesticide Information Center provides objective, science-based information about pesticides (in several languages)
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations leads international efforts to reduce hunger; as part of this effort, it has introduced pesticide policy reforms (in several languages)
MedlinePlus provides links to further resources about suicide and about pesticides (in English and Spanish)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000357
PMCID: PMC2964340  PMID: 21048990
16.  Suicide mortality trends by sex, age and method in Taiwan, 1971–2005 
BMC Public Health  2008;8:6.
Background
Method-specific suicide trends varied across countries, and studies of the trends in different countries can contribute to the understanding of the epidemiology of suicide. The purpose of this study was to examine the changes in suicide trends by sex, age and method in the years 1971 to 2005 in Taiwan.
Methods
Mortality data files of suicide and undetermined deaths for the years 1971–2005 were obtained for analyses. Age-, sex- and method-specific suicide rates were calculated by four age groups (15–24, 25–44, 45–64 and 65 and above) and five suicide methods (solids/liquids poisoning, other gases poisoning, hanging, jumping, and others).
Results
Both sexes experienced downward trends from 1971 to 1993, and then an upward trend since 1993. People aged 65 years and above had the highest suicide rates throughout the study periods. However, males aged 25–64 years experienced the steepest increasing trends. As to suicide methods, an annual increase, since 1991, of people jumping from heights to commit suicide, and a marked increase, since 1998, of people completing suicide by poisoning with other gases (mainly charcoal-burning) were observed.
Conclusion
Suicide by means of charcoal-burning and jumping from heights has become a serious public health problem in Taiwan. Preventive measures to curb these increasing trends are urgently needed.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-8-6
PMCID: PMC2259336  PMID: 18179723
17.  Seasonality of Chinese Rural Young Suicide and Its Correlates 1 
Journal of affective disorders  2011;134(1-3):356-364.
Background
There had been few studies on seasonality of Chinese suicide especially for Chinese rural youths. In this research, we wanted to find the seasonal pattern and the relationship between personal and behavioral characteristics and seasonal variation of suicide.
Method
We examined Chinese rural young adults aged 15 to 34 years who died by suicide using Psychological Autopsy method to gather information from the informants of suicide victims. Altogether 330 suicide victims was collected among which 144 were female and 186 were male. The χ2 test was used for comparison, and the multiple logistic regressions and Odds Ratios were adopted to analyze the seasonal preferences of suicide victims.
Result
Seasonal summer peak of suicide emerged in total population and in each subgroup. Four logistic regression models were constructed: in spring, six variables were included in the regression model, which were Gender (OR=1.627), Pesticide Used (OR=1.622), Life Events (OR=2.764), Suicide Intent (OR=1.641), Marital Status (OR=.574) and Family Conflicts (OR=.590); in summer, only Marital Status (OR=1.927) was accepted; in autumn, four variables including Marital Problems (OR=1.924), Trait Anxiety (OR=1.758), Gender (OR=.518) and Religion (OR=.534) were retained; in winter, Pesticide Used (OR=.486) and Suicide Intent (OR=.614) were retained.
Conclusion
Seasonal variations of personal and behavioral characteristics, combined with social activities, might also play very important roles in suicide seasonality.
doi:10.1016/j.jad.2011.05.030
PMCID: PMC3170492  PMID: 21665285
Seasonality; Suicide; Chinese; Logistic Regression; Psychological Autopsy
18.  Further evidence for epidemiological transition hypothesis for elderly suicides 
Abstract:
Background:
A developmental model of epidemiological transition for elderly suicide rates with four sequential stages has been developed to simultaneously explain cross-national variations in elderly suicide rates, trends over time for elderly suicide rates and age-associated trends in suicides rates reported in the literature. This model was supported by demonstration of a curvilinear (inverted U-shaped curve) relationship between elderly suicide rates and socio-economic status fitting the quadratic equation Y = A + BX - CX2 (where Y is the suicide rate, X is the socio-economic status and A,B, and C are constants) in both sexes. However, this relationship was derived from a cross-sectional study and, therefore, only an association can be inferred. One way to substantiate this further would be to examine the above curvilinear relationship between suicide rates and socio-economic status in a series of younger age-bands because a large part of the epidemiological transition hypothesis was contingent upon the impact of socio-economic status, through a series of mechanisms, on life expectancy. It was hypothesized that the curvilinear (inverted U-shaped curve) relationship between suicide rates and socio-economic status would be absent in younger age-bands and may be present in the younger age-bands closer to the older age-bands (i.e. 45-54 years and 55-64 years).
Methods:
The curvilinear relationship between suicide rates in five age-bands 15-24 years to 55-64 years in both sexes and gross national domestic product (GDP), a measure of socio-economic status, fitting the above quadratic equation was examined with curve estimation regression model using data from the World Health Organization.
Results:
In males in the age-bands 35-44 years, 45-54 years and 55-64 years there was a statistically significant curvilinear (inverted U-shaped curve) relationship with GDP and fitted the quadratic equation Y = A + BX - CX2; this relationship was absent in males in the age-bands 15-24 years and 25-34 years. In females in the age-bands 45-54 years and 55-64 years there was a statistically significant curvilinear with GDP (inverted U-shaped curve) and fitted the quadratic equation Y = A + BX - CX2; this relationship was absent in females in the age-bands 15-24 years, 25-34 years and 35-44 years.
Conclusions:
Although caution should be exercised in accepting the model of the epidemiological transition hypothesis for elderly suicide rates because it had been generated from cross-sectional data using an ecological design, the findings of the current study of suicide rates in younger age-bands provide support for this hypothesis.
doi:10.5249/jivr.v3i1.71
PMCID: PMC3134919  PMID: 21483212
19.  Suicide Means Used by Chinese Rural Youths 
Reports on Chinese rural youth suicide indicated patterns different from those of the West. Only about 30% to 70% young victims had had diagnoses of psychiatric illnesses, and more than 60% of them used pesticides as suicide means. To prevent suicides in rural China, it is important to know the choice of means by Chinese young suicide victims with and without mental disorders. Data on suicide cases in China's rural areas gathered from a big psychological autopsy study were studied for demographic characteristics, suicide methods, and the presence of mental disorders. The findings in the suicide victims with and without mental disorders showed significant differences in suicide method selecting. Victims with mental disorders tended to select violent methods compared with those without mental disorders (31.4% vs. 16.2%). Hanging is method more likely chosen by the mentally disordered victims (13.3%) than those without a mental disorder (7.8%). Mental status affects the means choice among the Chinese rural young suicide victims. Among them, the female victims without mental disorders tended to act on impulsivity and used non-violent means such as pesticide consumption for suicide. This study informs suicide prevention measures in both China and rest of the world.
doi:10.1097/NMD.0b013e31821d3ac7
PMCID: PMC3205915  PMID: 21629021
Suicide method; psychological autopsy; mental disorder; China
20.  Social Class Status and Suicide Characteristics: A Survey among Patients Who Attempted Suicide in Isfahan 
Materia Socio-Medica  2013;25(1):56-59.
Introduction:
Suicide is one of the most prominent problems in health care system in current Iran. It could be impacted by various factors such as social, economic, individual and so on. Researchers show that socio-economic factors and suicide has significantly related. The people in low social class may more engage with social problems than higher social class. They may confront to problems such as crime, violence, unemployment, financial hardship, population density, disorder personality, etc. However, these difficulties could be resulted from relationship of inequality socio-economic and mental or physical health. This research attempted to examine social class status and its relationship with parts of suicide characteristics.
Methods:
This study applied a descriptive approach. In the cross-sectional research 179 patients who attempted suicide and admitted to the toxicology ward of Nour hospital and to the burning ward of Imam Mousa Kazem hospital, in Isfahan, during a period of 6 months in 2010 were recruited. The randomize sampling for patients admitted to toxicology ward and census for burning ward are applied. Data collected through a questionnaire which Chronbagh coefficient’s alpha was calculated (r= 0/72). Data was analyzed in SPSS software.
Findings:
The data showed that the majority of patients who attempted suicide were young married women who had diploma and under diploma of level education. They were housewife, engaged in education and unemployment. Finding showed that there are no significant relationships between sex, age, marital status, frequency of attempted suicide and their social class. But there is significant relationship between methods of suicide and social class. Similarly, there are significant relationship between social factors (i.e. family friction, betrothal, unemployment, financial problems and so on) effected on suicide and their social classes. Parts of findings were supported by previous studies.
doi:10.5455/msm.2013.25.56-59
PMCID: PMC3655787  PMID: 23687462
Attempted suicide; Social class.
21.  Burden of Depressive Disorders by Country, Sex, Age, and Year: Findings from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(11):e1001547.
In this paper, Ferrari and colleagues analyzed the burden of depressive disorders in GBD 2010 and identified depressive disorders as a leading cause of burden. The authors present severity proportions; burden by country, region, age, sex, and year; as well as burden of depressive disorders as a risk factor for suicide and ischemic heart disease.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Depressive disorders were a leading cause of burden in the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) 1990 and 2000 studies. Here, we analyze the burden of depressive disorders in GBD 2010 and present severity proportions, burden by country, region, age, sex, and year, as well as burden of depressive disorders as a risk factor for suicide and ischemic heart disease.
Methods and Findings
Burden was calculated for major depressive disorder (MDD) and dysthymia. A systematic review of epidemiological data was conducted. The data were pooled using a Bayesian meta-regression. Disability weights from population survey data quantified the severity of health loss from depressive disorders. These weights were used to calculate years lived with disability (YLDs) and disability adjusted life years (DALYs). Separate DALYs were estimated for suicide and ischemic heart disease attributable to depressive disorders.
Depressive disorders were the second leading cause of YLDs in 2010. MDD accounted for 8.2% (5.9%–10.8%) of global YLDs and dysthymia for 1.4% (0.9%–2.0%). Depressive disorders were a leading cause of DALYs even though no mortality was attributed to them as the underlying cause. MDD accounted for 2.5% (1.9%–3.2%) of global DALYs and dysthymia for 0.5% (0.3%–0.6%). There was more regional variation in burden for MDD than for dysthymia; with higher estimates in females, and adults of working age. Whilst burden increased by 37.5% between 1990 and 2010, this was due to population growth and ageing. MDD explained 16 million suicide DALYs and almost 4 million ischemic heart disease DALYs. This attributable burden would increase the overall burden of depressive disorders from 3.0% (2.2%–3.8%) to 3.8% (3.0%–4.7%) of global DALYs.
Conclusions
GBD 2010 identified depressive disorders as a leading cause of burden. MDD was also a contributor of burden allocated to suicide and ischemic heart disease. These findings emphasize the importance of including depressive disorders as a public-health priority and implementing cost-effective interventions to reduce its burden.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Depressive disorders are common mental disorders that occur in people of all ages across all world regions. Depression—an overwhelming feeling of sadness and hopelessness that can last for months or years—can make people feel that life is no longer worth living. People affected by depression lose interest in the activities they used to enjoy and can also be affected by physical symptoms such as disturbed sleep. Major depressive disorder (MDD, also known as clinical depression) is an episodic disorder with a chronic (long-term) outcome and increased risk of death. It involves at least one major depressive episode in which the affected individual experiences a depressed mood almost all day, every day for at least 2 weeks. Dysthymia is a milder, chronic form of depression that lasts for at least 2 years. People with dysthymia are often described as constantly unhappy. Both these subtypes of depression (and others such as that experienced in bipolar disorder) can be treated with antidepressant drugs and with talking therapies.
Why Was This Study Done?
Depressive disorders were a leading cause of disease burden in the 1990 and 2000 Global Burden of Disease (GBD) studies, collaborative scientific efforts that quantify the health loss attributable to diseases and injuries in terms of disability adjusted life years (DALYs; one DALY represents the loss of a healthy year of life). DALYs are calculated by adding together the years of life lived with a disability (YLD, a measure that includes a disability weight factor reflecting disease severity) and the years of life lost because of disorder-specific premature death. The GBD initiative aims to provide data that can be used to improve public-health policy. Thus, knowing that depressive disorders are a leading cause of disease burden worldwide has helped to prioritize depressive disorders in global public-health agendas. Here, the researchers analyze the burden of MDD and dysthymia in GBD 2010 by country, region, age, and sex, and calculate the burden of suicide and ischemic heart disease attributable to depressive disorders (depression is a risk factor for suicide and ischemic heart disease). GBD 2010 is broader in scope than previous GBD studies and quantifies the direct burden of 291 diseases and injuries and the burden attributable to 67 risk factors across 187 countries.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers collected data on the prevalence, incidence, remission rates, and duration of MDD and dysthymia and on the excess deaths caused by these disorders from published articles. They pooled these data using a statistical method called Bayesian meta-regression and calculated YLDs for MDD and dysthymia using disability weights collected in population surveys. MDD accounted for 8.2% of global YLDs in 2010, making it the second leading cause of YLDs. Dysthymia accounted for 1.4% of global YLDs. MDD and dysthymia were also leading causes of DALYs, accounting for 2.5% and 0.5% of global DALYs, respectively. The regional variation in the burden was greater for MDD than for dysthymia, the burden of depressive disorders was higher in women than men, the largest proportion of YLDs from depressive disorders occurred among adults of working age, and the global burden of depressive disorders increased by 37.5% between 1990 and 2010 because of population growth and ageing. Finally, MDD explained an additional 16 million DALYs and 4 million DALYs when it was considered as a risk factor for suicide and ischemic heart disease, respectively. This “attributable” burden increased the overall burden of depressive disorders to 3.8% of global DALYs.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings update and extend the information available from GBD 1990 and 2000 on the global burden of depressive disorders. They confirm that depressive disorders are a leading direct cause of the global disease burden and show that MDD also contributes to the burden allocated to suicide and ischemic heart disease. The estimates of the global burden of depressive disorders reported in GBD 2010 are likely to be more accurate than those in previous GBD studies but are limited by factors such as the sparseness of data on depressive disorders from developing countries and the validity of the disability weights used to calculate YLDs. Even so, these findings reinforce the importance of treating depressive disorders as a public-health priority and of implementing cost-effective interventions to reduce their ubiquitous burden.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001547.
The US National Institute of Mental Health provides information on all aspects of depression
The UK National Health Service Choices website also provides detailed information about depression and includes personal stories about depression
More personal stories about depression are available from healthtalkonline.org
MedlinePlus provides links to other resources about depression (in English and Spanish)
The World Health Organization provides information on depression and on the global burden of disease (in several languages)
Information about the Global Burden of Disease initiative is available
beyondblue provides many resources on depression
The Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research provides information on epidemiology and the global burden of disease specifically for mental disorders
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001547
PMCID: PMC3818162  PMID: 24223526
22.  Canadian Community Health Survey: Major Depressive Disorder and Suicidality in Adolescents 
Healthcare Policy  2006;2(2):76-89.
Background:
Contrary to other developed countries where adolescent suicide rates have declined in the last decade, the rate in Canada has remained unchanged. Suicide is the second leading cause of death in Canadian adolescents and poses a serious public health concern. However, there is little epidemiological data examining the rates of suicidality or depression – two factors most closely associated with completed suicides. This study therefore examines the rates of depression and suicidality in adolescents aged 15–18.
Methods:
Data from the Canadian Community Health Survey Cycle 1.2 on Mental Health and Well-being, a population-based survey conducted by Statistics Canada, were used to examine the rates of depression and suicidality in adolescents aged 15–18. Lifetime prevalence rates were calculated for depression and suicidality by region for males and females. Multivariate analyses were conducted to test the robustness of these results.
Results:
The lifetime prevalence rates were 7.6% for depression and 13.5% for suicidality. There were significant gender differences for both: 4.3% of males and 11.1% of females had depression, and 8.8% of males and 18.4% of females had suicidality. After adjustment for age, sex and household income, the Maritimes had a lower rate of depression and British Columbia had a higher rate of suicidality relative to Ontario. Youth from low-income households had a higher risk of suicidality.
Interpretation:
The findings suggest that depression and suicidality are common in adolescents and that females are more likely to be affected. The results also point to regional and socio-economic differences. Future research should examine differences that exist in mental health services provision and access. This will aid in the development of national, regional and local strategies to address the issue of depression and suicidality in Canadian adolescents.
PMCID: PMC2585433  PMID: 19305706
23.  Urbanicity and Methods of Suicide: A Nationwide Population-based Study 
Despite urban–rural disparities in suicide rates having been reported in prior studies, there is scant information on the impact of urbanicity on suicide methods. This study investigates violent and nonviolent suicide methods in Taiwan and their association with urbanicity. We use a Taiwanese nationwide mortality database covering the period January 1997 to December 2003. A multilevel logistic regression analysis was performed to examine the relationship between urbanicity and violent/nonviolent suicide methods after adjusting for the age, gender, marital status and employment status of the victims, and the seasons during which the deaths occurred to account for possible dependence within cities/towns. Of the total of 17,849 suicide deaths examined, those residing in more urbanized areas tended to commit suicide by violent methods, an association that remains after controlling for the age, gender, marital and employment status of the victims, and the season during which the deaths occurred. We concluded that a significant association is noted between urbanicity and suicide methods. Thus, effective strategies for suicide prevention should also consider urbanicity.
doi:10.1007/s11524-007-9238-7
PMCID: PMC2430127  PMID: 17999195
Suicide; Urbanicity; Violent/Non-violent Methods
24.  Using NVDRS data for suicide prevention: promising practices in seven states 
Injury Prevention  2006;12(Suppl 2):ii28-ii32.
Objectives
This article describes how seven states participating in a new public health surveillance system for violent death in the US, the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS), have used data to support local suicide prevention activities.
Setting
The NVDRS is unique in that it augments death certificate data with event and circumstance information from death investigation reports filed by coroners, medical examiners, and law enforcement. These data illuminate why the victim ended his or her life, fatal injury patterns, and toxicological findings at death.
Results
Current suicide prevention efforts using these data fall into three categories: describing the problem of suicide and identifying opportunities for intervention; collaborating on statewide suicide prevention plans; and forming new partnerships for targeted prevention initiatives. Taken together, these three areas show early promise for state suicide prevention efforts.
Conclusions
In each of the states, NVDRS data analyses are being shared with injury prevention colleagues, suicide prevention planning groups and policymakers, and adapted to respond to unique state and local suicide problems. A powerful surveillance tool, the NVDRS is bringing new clarity and direction to these state‐based efforts. The NVDRS can serve as a model for other countries looking to establish timely suicide surveillance systems and data driven prevention strategies.
doi:10.1136/ip.2006.012443
PMCID: PMC2563480  PMID: 17170167
25.  Spatial clusters of suicide in the municipality of São Paulo 1996–2005: an ecological study 
BMC Psychiatry  2012;12:124.
Background
In a classical study, Durkheim mapped suicide rates, wealth, and low family density and realized that they clustered in northern France. Assessing others variables, such as religious society, he constructed a framework for the analysis of the suicide, which still allows international comparisons using the same basic methodology. The present study aims to identify possible significantly clusters of suicide in the city of São Paulo, and then, verify their statistical associations with socio-economic and cultural characteristics.
Methods
A spatial scan statistical test was performed to analyze the geographical pattern of suicide deaths of residents in the city of São Paulo by Administrative District, from 1996 to 2005. Relative risks and high and/or low clusters were calculated accounting for gender and age as co-variates, were analyzed using spatial scan statistics to identify geographical patterns. Logistic regression was used to estimate associations with socioeconomic variables, considering, the spatial cluster of high suicide rates as the response variable. Drawing from Durkheim’s original work, current World Health Organization (WHO) reports and recent reviews, the following independent variables were considered: marital status, income, education, religion, and migration.
Results
The mean suicide rate was 4.1/100,000 inhabitant-years. Against this baseline, two clusters were identified: the first, of increased risk (RR = 1.66), comprising 18 districts in the central region; the second, of decreased risk (RR = 0.78), including 14 districts in the southern region. The downtown area toward the southwestern region of the city displayed the highest risk for suicide, and though the overall risk may be considered low, the rate climbs up to an intermediate level in this region. One logistic regression analysis contrasted the risk cluster (18 districts) against the other remaining 78 districts, testing the effects of socioeconomic-cultural variables. The following categories of proportion of persons within the clusters were identified as risk factors: singles (OR = 2.36), migrants (OR = 1.50), Catholics (OR = 1.37) and higher income (OR = 1.06). In a second logistic model, likewise conceived, the following categories of proportion of persons were identified as protective factors: married (OR = 0.49) and Evangelical (OR = 0.60).
Conclusions
This risk/ protection profile is in accordance with the interpretation that, as a social phenomenon, suicide is related to social isolation. Thus, the classical framework put forward by Durkheim seems to still hold, even though its categorical expression requires re-interpretation.
doi:10.1186/1471-244X-12-124
PMCID: PMC3496688  PMID: 22913796

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