Geography of suicide in Taiwan: Spatial patterning and socioeconomic correlates


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Abstract

In industrialised Western nations suicide rates tend to be high in inner city areas and socially fragmented neighbourhoods. Few studies have investigated spatial variations in suicide in non-Western settings. We estimated smoothed standardised mortality ratios (1999–2007) for suicide for each of the 358 Taiwanese districts (median population aged 15+: 27,000) and investigated their associations with area characteristics using Bayesian hierarchical models. The geographic distribution of suicide was similar in men and women; young people showed the greatest spatial variation in rates. Rates were highest in East Taiwan, a mostly mountainous rural area. There was no evidence of above average rates in large cities. Spatial patterns of method-specific suicide rates varied markedly, with solids/liquids poisonings showing the greatest geographic variation and hangings the least. Factors most strongly associated with area suicide rates were median household income, population density and lone-parent households. Spatial patterning of suicide in Taiwan differed from that observed in Western nations. Suicide prevention strategies should take into account unique local patterns.

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