A geographical exploration of environmental and land use characteristics of suicide in the greater Toronto area

Psychiatry Res. 2020 May;287:112790. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2020.112790. Epub 2020 Feb 1.


In developed countries, suicide has become one of the leading causes of mortality. With approximately 3500 cases taking place in Canada annually, it is currently the seventh-most common cause of death. A clearer spatial understanding of the suicide landscape in rapidly changing urban environments would especially help mitigate this problem. This study examines suicide rates in Toronto between 2004 and 2011 as to understand the spatial distribution of suicide by means of the importance of metropolitan places. The study uses geocomputation and statistical methods, enabling spatial analysis as tools to further assess the prevalent gender disparities of self-harm, advancing the current findings in the suicide literature. The findings clearly expose that the dichotomy of gender (male and female) produce different spatial patterns of self-harm, and are impacted by landscape characteristics differently. Specifically, the configuration of different land cover types have a much great impact on the female population than male. This spatial-exploratory understanding of not only the geographical distribution of rates, but also an assessment of landscape influence can help to mitigate suicide depending on demographic and spatial-explicit characteristics found through advanced geostatistical and spatial analytical modeling.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Environment
  • Female
  • Geography
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Ontario / epidemiology
  • Spatial Analysis
  • Suicide / statistics & numerical data*