Introduction: There are several published studies that have been focused on the ecological association between suicide rates in different areas with indices of deprivation or fragmentation. Most of these studies, however, have used census-based indices of deprivation or fragmentation. In the present study the newly developed Indices of Deprivation have been used, taking into account the results of the spatial autocorrelation tests.
Methods: Data on all deaths for which suicide or an open verdict was returned during 1996-1998 in England were subjects of this study. These data were provided by the National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Homicide by People with Mental Illness. The indices of deprivation and the population counts were provided by the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Region (DETR) and Office for National Statistics (ONS), respectively.
Results: The results show that, in England as a whole, the rates of suicide in young and middle-aged males were strongly associated with the indices of deprivation. However, the rates of suicide in females and in older age groups were less influenced by the indices of deprivation. In the present study all the indices of deprivation tended to show a similar pattern in which a better socio-economic status of local authorities was associated with a lower rate of suicide.
Conclusion: These findings suggest that at the local authority level, the "hot spots" index of deprivation may represent the same level of magnitude in predicting the rates of suicide as the number of unemployed or income-deprived people. However, more studies using multilevel modelling are needed to shed more light on the ecological associations between suicide rates and socio-economic and social cohesion status.