The decline in Australian young male suicide

Morrell, Stephen, Page, Andrew N. and Taylor, Richard J. (2007) The decline in Australian young male suicide. Social Science and Medicine, 64 3: 747-754. doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2006.09.027

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Author Morrell, Stephen
Page, Andrew N.
Taylor, Richard J.
Title The decline in Australian young male suicide
Journal name Social Science and Medicine   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0277-9536
Publication date 2007-02
Year available 2006
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.socscimed.2006.09.027
Volume 64
Issue 3
Start page 747
End page 754
Total pages 8
Editor E. Annandale
Place of publication United Kingdom
Publisher Pergamon-Elsevier Science
Collection year 2008
Language eng
Subject C1
321204 Mental Health
730218 Social structure and health
321200 Public Health and Health Services
Abstract Since the late 1990s there has been a sharp downward trend in Australian young male suicide. It is possible that a major government youth suicide prevention initiative, the National Youth Suicide Prevention Strategy (NYSPS), implemented during 1995-1999 may have influenced the decline. In this article, we examine time trends in age- and means-specific male and female Australian suicide rates in relation to unemployment rates and the NYSPS. Based on Australian suicide data over the period 1966-2003, we assess secular changes in the 20-24 year male suicide to total (crude) male suicide rate ratio in relation to the NYSPS, using interrupted time series analysis (ARIMA), since this was previously found to be significantly associated with the 20-24 year male unemployment to total employment ratio. Results show that a dramatic reduction in Australian young male (aged 20-34 years) suicide has occurred since 1997-1998, declining from approximately 40 per 100,000 in 1997-1998 to approximately 20 per 100,000 in 2003. Most of the decline is due to a decrease in suicide by hanging and to a lesser extent from motor vehicle carbon monoxide and other gases. Further, the previously established strong secular association (lasting over 3 decades from 1966) between the rate ratio of 20-24 year male suicide to total (crude) male suicide, and the rate ratio of 20-24 year male unemployment to total unemployment, appears to have been disrupted. ARIMA modelling of the suicide ratio against the initiative indicates a highly significant statistical association between the NYSPS and the suicide ratio reduction but not between the NYSPS and the unemployment indicator trend, suggesting a break in the link between young male suicide and unemployment. The recent sudden turnaround in Australian young male suicide trends and its extent appears to preclude explanations centring on slow-moving social indices traditionally associated with suicide, or on possible cohort effects. This sudden decrease has occurred mainly in non-impulsive means, and at the same time has broken a long-standing secular link between 20 and 24-year-male suicide and unemployment, lending plausibility to the case for the NYSPS having had an impact on young male suicide in Australia.
Keyword Adolescent
Suicide/prevention & control/ trends
Vital Statistics
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Excellence in Research Australia (ERA) - Collection
School of Public Health Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 40 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 45 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Fri, 28 Mar 2008, 16:56:04 EST