Suicide rates and socioeconomic factors in Eastern European countries after the collapse of the Soviet Union: trends between 1990 and 2008

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After the collapse of the Soviet Union the various Eastern European (EE) countries adapted in different ways to the social, political and economic changes. The present study aims to analyse whether the factors related to social integration and regulation are able to explain the changes in the suicide rate in EE. A separate analysis of suicide rates, together with the undetermined intent mortality (UD), was performed. A cross-sectional time-series design and applied a panel data fixed-effects regression technique was used in analyses. The sample included 13 countries from the former Soviet bloc between 1990 and 2008. Dependent variables were gender-specific age-adjusted suicide rates and suicide plus UD rates. Independent variables included unemployment, GDP, divorce rate, birth rate, the Gini index, female labour force participation, alcohol consumption and general practitioners per 100,000 people. Male suicide and suicide or UD rates had similar predictors, which suggest that changes in suicide were related to socioeconomic disruptions experienced during the transition period. However, male suicide rates in EE were not associated with alcohol consumption during the study period. Even so, there might be underestimation of alcohol consumption due to illegal alcohol and differences between methodologies of calculating alcohol consumption. However, predictors of female suicide were related to economic integration and suicide or UD rates with domestic integration.

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