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The Suicide Mortality Rates between 1997–1998 and 2000–2001 in Nantou County of Taiwan Following the Earthquake of September 21 in 1999

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The paper aims to show the different suicide mortality rate between 1997–1998 and 2000–2001 in Nantou County of Taiwan with earthquake on September 21 (often referred to as the “9-21 earthquake”) in 1999. In additional, it also identifies the preventive strategies for the high-risk suicide population. The age-standardized mortality rates for suicide in Nantou County were calculated for the years 1997–1998 and 2000–2001. The suicide standardized mortality ratio (SMR for townships in Nantou were calculated by “type of township” as the standard rate). There is a statistically significant difference in male suicide rates for the years prior to the earthquake (1997–1998) when pooled and compared to the suicide rates for the years after the earthquake (2000–2001). The rate for four age groups (under 25, 25–44, 45–64, 65 and above) all increased, yet all but one (the group of age 45–64) was not statistically significant. The male SMR has slightly increased after the 9-21 earthquake. Yet there are no statistical significances in most townships, except in Kaohsiung and Puli after the 9-21 earthquake. The Kaohsiung SMRs were 1.36 (95% CI: 0.54–2.80) before the earthquake (1997–1998) and 2.01 (95% CI: 1.04–3.52) after the earthquake (2000–2001). The SMRs before and after the earthquake in the Puli Township were 1.51 (95% CI: 0.95–2.29) to 1.56 (95% CI: 1.03–2.27). This study suggests that monitoring high-risk population, especially males or 45–64 years of age who experienced the highest statistically significant suicide rate in this study. The study provides support for providing both the psychological restoration program and, to the extent feasible, financial support for the unemployed as useful public health strategies for suicide prevention in Taiwan.
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Keywords: age-standardized mortality rate; earthquake; forensic science; standardized mortality ratio; suicide

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Public Health, Chung Shan Medical University, Taichung, Taiwan. 2: Department of Senior Citizens Services Management, Ming-Hsin University of Science and Technology, Hisnchu, Taiwan. 3: Department of Psychiatry, Chung Shan Medical University Hospital, Taichung, Taiwan. 4: Graduate Institute of Epidemiology, College of Public Health, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan.

Publication date: January 1, 2008

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