Age-specific suicide rates in the Slavic and Baltic regions of the former USSR during perestroika, in comparison with 22 European countries


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Abstract

Age-specific differences in suicide rates in the Baltic and Slavic regions of the former USSR were studied for the period 1984-1990, and were compared to those of 22 European countries. It was observed that suicide rates per 100 000 inhabitants in the Slavic and Baltic regions increased directly with age for women, and showed a bimodal distribution with peaks for the 45-54 and ≥75 age groups for men. In most of the 22 European countries, the suicide rates of both men and women increased directly with age. In 1990 the suicide rates in the Slavic and Baltic regions ranged from 25.1 for the 15-24 age group to 86.9 for men aged 75 or older, and from 6.0 to 29.8 for women, while the suicide rates in Europe ranged from 13.0 to 64.8 for men and from 3.6 to 18.7 for women. Decreases in the suicide rates in the Slavic and Baltic regions during perestroika were largest for the 25-54 age group, averaging a drop of 45% for men and 33% for women between 1984 and 1986-1988. The pattern of age-specific suicide rates for women in the Slavic and Baltic regions remained similar to that in Europe throughout the period studied. This was in contrast to a distinct pattern of male suicide rates in the Slavic and Baltic regions in 1984, which converged with those found in other parts of Europe during 1986-1988. It appears that perestroika contributed to a unique pattern of male suicide mortality in the Slavic and Baltic regions, especially in the 25-54 age group.

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