Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Suicide and employment status during Ireland’s Celtic Tiger economy

A recent publication in the European Journal of Public Health might be of interest to you. This research examines CSO data from 1996 to 2006 and finds that unemployment status is associated with a two to three-fold increased risk of suicide for men and a four to six-fold increased risk for women. This research also indicates that the highest male suicide rate was in the 15-34-year-olds, and unemployment was the stronger risk factor for suicide in men aged 35-54.

1 comment:

Kevin Denny said...

I have trouble understanding this paper. They appear to analyse annual aggregate trends in suicide rates over an 11 year period but broken down into 2 periods 1996-2000 (n=5) and 2001-2006 ( n=6). The analysis is broken down by sex.
A time series model with so few observations is unusual to say the least, moreover each model contains 6 parameters for the males & 9 for the females: something strange going on here (the results table doesn't tell us what n is, oddly).
However the bottom line is the following (these are my conclusions): male & female unemployment fell very significantly over the period while male & female suicide rates pretty much flat-lined. So that strongly suggests there is not much relationship between the two. We have a pretty good natural experiment and it looks like nothing happened.
I would have thought it useful to get more action on the covariates by breaking it down by county or even province: if it is just aggregate data, n is too small. Moreover the authors choose only to use unemployment as a covariate but there was lots of other things going on in the economy at the same time such as rising personal incomes, increased emigration, perhaps changes in inequality, change in health care provision and so on. These will be correlated with the unemployment trend of course. Looking at just one variable is arbitrary.