Factors Driving Temporal and Spatial Patterns in Suicide Risk in the U.S., 1976-2000

Julie A. Phillips, Rutgers University

Using pooled cross-sectional time-series data for the 50 U.S. states over a 25 year period, the paper examines how well social correlates are associated with the 1976-2000 patterns in overall suicide rates and suicide by firearms and other means. Unlike past research that typically considers only one dimension, this analysis differentiates between spatial and temporal variation in suicide rates to determine how social correlates operate differently in these two contexts. Suicide rates correspond closely to social correlates – declines in overall suicide rates between 1976 and 2000 were associated with demographic change (drops in the relative size of white and young populations, and growth in the overall population and percentage of males). States with declining unemployment and numbers of Episcopalians, and with slower growth in the percentage divorced, were also more likely to show declines in the overall suicide rate. Findings differ importantly by type of suicide, and across time and space.

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Presented in Session 171: Contextual Influences on Health and Mortality