Socioeconomic change and suicide: a time-series study from the Republic of Ireland

Crisis. 2005;26(2):90-4. doi: 10.1027/0227-5910.26.2.90.


This ecological study examined the association between seven socioeconomic indicators (GDP, unemployment rate, female labor force participation rate, alcohol expenditure, marriage rate, percentage of births outside of marriage, and indictable crime rate) and total, male, and female rates of suicide and suicide plus undetermined death in Ireland during the period 1968-2000. Analysis of the data expressed as absolute values showed highly significant associations between the socioeconomic indicators and the total, male, and female suicide rates. However, these associations were explained by the strongly trended data. The trended nature of the data was removed by using year-to-year differences. Analysis of the first-differenced data showed that none of the socioeconomic indicators was associated with the total, male, or female suicide rates with the exception of indictable crime, which had a significant independent effect on the female suicide rate (coefficient = 2.0, p < .01) but not on suicide plus undetermined death. This study highlights the need to use econometric methods in time-trend analyses, the lack of age-sex specific exposure data in this area, and the challenge of understanding trends in suicide in their socioeconomic context.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cause of Death / trends*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Ireland / epidemiology
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Social Change*
  • Suicide / trends*