Objective and subjective neighbourhood characteristics and suicidality: a multilevel analysis

Psychol Med. 2023 Mar;53(4):1166-1175. doi: 10.1017/S0033291721002579. Epub 2021 Jul 7.


Background: Characteristics of the neighbourhood environment, including population density, social fragmentation, and trust, have been linked to mental health outcomes. Using a longitudinal population-based cohort, we explored the relationship between objective and subjective neighbourhood characteristics and the odds of suicidal thoughts and attempts.

Methods: We conducted a longitudinal study of 20764 participants living in Stockholm County who participated in the Stockholm Public Health Survey. We used multilevel modelling to examine if suicidal thoughts and attempts were associated with neighbourhood characteristics, independent of individual associations. We included objective and subjective measures to explore if there was a different relationship between these measures of the neighbourhood environment and suicidality.

Results: Associations between neighbourhood factors and suicidality were predominantly explained by individual characteristics, with the exception of neighbourhood-level deprivation and average residential trust. Each unit increase of deprivation was linked to increased odds of suicidal thoughts [Odds ratio (OR) 1.04, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.00-1.07] and attempts (OR 1.11, 95% CI 1.06-1.17). Decreasing residential trust was associated with increased odds of suicide attempts (OR 1.09, 95% CI 1.02-1.17). There was no evidence that neighbourhood-level fragmentation or average trust in public and political institutions had an independent effect on suicidality once individual and sociodemographic factors were accounted for.

Conclusions: This study showed that much of the neighbourhood-level variation in suicidal thoughts and attempts could be explained by compositional factors, including sociodemographic clustering within neighbourhoods. The independent effect of neighbourhood-level deprivation and average residential trust provide evidence that the neighbourhood context may exert an independent effect on suicidality beyond the impact of individual characteristics.

Keywords: Attempted; longitudinal studies; small-area analysis; suicidal ideation; suicide.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Multilevel Analysis
  • Neighborhood Characteristics
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Risk Factors
  • Suicidal Ideation*
  • Suicide*