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Spatial analysis of suicide mortality in Australia: Investigation of metropolitan-rural-remote differentials of suicide risk across states/territories


  • Cheung, Yee Tak Derek
  • Spittal, Matthew J.
  • Pirkis, Jane
  • Yip, Paul Siu Fai


Studies of suicide epidemiology in regions of Australia have been conducted, but the spatial pattern in the whole country has not been fully investigated. This study aimed at visualizing the sex-specific suicide pattern over the country from 2004 to 2008, and studying the metropolitan-rural-remote differentials of suicide across all states/territories. We applied a Poisson hierarchical model to yield smoothed sex specific, age standardized mortality ratios of suicide in all postal areas, and compiled the age-standardized suicide rates across different levels of remoteness and different jurisdictions. We identified the area variation of suicide risk across states/territories, and metropolitan-rural-remote differential with rates higher in rural and remote areas for males. Spatial clusters of some high risk postal areas were also identified. Socio-economic deprivation, compositional factors, high risks for Indigenous people and low access to mental health service are the underlying explanations of the elevation of suicide risk in some areas. These findings suggest that it is important to take geographical variations in suicide risk into account in national policy making. Particular suicide prevention interventions might be targeted at males living in remote areas, and some localized areas in metropolitan zones.

Suggested Citation

  • Cheung, Yee Tak Derek & Spittal, Matthew J. & Pirkis, Jane & Yip, Paul Siu Fai, 2012. "Spatial analysis of suicide mortality in Australia: Investigation of metropolitan-rural-remote differentials of suicide risk across states/territories," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 75(8), pages 1460-1468.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:75:y:2012:i:8:p:1460-1468
    DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2012.04.008

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Alston, Margaret, 2012. "Rural male suicide in Australia," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 74(4), pages 515-522.
    2. Julian Besag & Jeremy York & Annie MolliƩ, 1991. "Bayesian image restoration, with two applications in spatial statistics," Annals of the Institute of Statistical Mathematics, Springer;The Institute of Statistical Mathematics, vol. 43(1), pages 1-20, March.
    3. McPhedran, Samara & Baker, Jeanine, 2008. "Recent Australian suicide trends for males and females at the national level: Has the rate of decline differed?," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 87(3), pages 350-358, September.
    4. Pearce, Jamie & Barnett, Ross & Jones, Irfon, 2007. "Have urban/rural inequalities in suicide in New Zealand grown during the period 1980-2001?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 65(8), pages 1807-1819, October.
    5. Agerbo, Esben & Sterne, Jonathan A.C. & Gunnell, David J., 2007. "Combining individual and ecological data to determine compositional and contextual socio-economic risk factors for suicide," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 64(2), pages 451-461, January.
    6. Levin, Kate A. & Leyland, Alastair H., 2005. "Urban/rural inequalities in suicide in Scotland, 1981-1999," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 60(12), pages 2877-2890, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Tae-Ho Yoon & Maengseok Noh & Junhee Han & Kyunghee Jung-Choi & Young-Ho Khang, 2015. "Deprivation and suicide mortality across 424 neighborhoods in Seoul, South Korea: a Bayesian spatial analysis," International Journal of Public Health, Springer;Swiss School of Public Health (SSPH+), vol. 60(8), pages 969-976, December.


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