Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: The influence of socio-economic factors on geographic and temporal variations in suicide.
Author: Saunderson, Thomas.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3554 0945
Awarding Body: University of East Anglia
Current Institution: University of East Anglia
Date of Award: 1999
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
The majority of research on suicide has focused on the role of direct risk factors in the development of suicidal intent, including personal characteristics and psychiatric illness. While research on the wider influence of socio-economic circumstances is not uncommon, most research has considered single risk factors, and often limits the scope of the research to small groups or small areas. This research attempted to provide a unified and comprehensive analysis, and used mainly aggregate data to consider the extent to which socio-economic factors explain geographic and temporal variations in suicide. Variations in suicide over the local authority districts of England and Wales were found to be significantly associated with several ecological predictors, including male unemployment, lone households, low social class and divorce. The importance of the predictors varied according to age and sex, and the results corresponded well to those from individual level studies. The research also considered the geographical differences between suicide and undetermined death verdicts, and found that the latter have a significant urban bias. These cross- 3ectional results were used as the basis for a study of the changes that took place in suicide rates during the 1980s, to determine the extent to which changes in the area characteristics that were significant at a given point in time accounted for changes in suicide rates over time. Particular attention was given to the dramatic rise in rates among younger males (aged 15-44). Little evidence was found at the ecological level to support the hypothesis that changes in unemployment and/or deprivation, the proportion of people living alone, or the divorce rate might have been responsible for the increase in suicide among younger men, while the rates for all other groups declined. Individual data for Norfolk were also used, and the predictors of geographic variation were found to be very similar for Norfolk and England and Wales. Furthermore, although the sexand age-specific changes in rates during the 1980s were also similar, the ecological variable~ again failed to adequately predict the changes. Analysis did not support the hypothesis tha1 suicide rates increased solely because of the increased availability of motor vehicle exhaus1 fumes as a suicide method, though there was some suggestion that this may have contributec to the trends. Further analysis of individual deaths found strong evidence to suggest the urbar bias of undetennined death to be an artifact of the reporting of suicide, whereby mon equivocal methods, more likely to lead to an undetermined death verdict, tend to be use( more often in urban areas. Two main conclusions are reached. First, the extent of the urban-rural variation between tbl verdicts was such that studies using different definitions of suicide over the same study are; could possibly derive diifering conclusions. Combining the verdicts is therefore encouragec Second, while the geography of suicide may be explained in tenns of socio-economic facton changes in suicide rates appear to have little or no geographic and socio-economi manifestation. Detennining the role of cultural change, presently the only theory t adequately account for the divergence in rates, requires more psychologically and socially orientated research.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Undetermined death; Multilevel models