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Impact of economic fluctuations on suicide mortality in Canada (1926–2008): Testing the Durkheim, Ginsberg, and Henry and Short theories

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Three theories have been proposed to explain the relationship between suicide and economic fluctuations, including the Durkheim (nonlinear), Ginsberg (procyclical), and Henry and Short (countercyclical) theories. This study tested the effect of economic fluctuations, measured by unemployment rate, on suicide rates in Canada from 1926 to 2008. Autoregressive integrated moving average time-series models were used. The results showed a significant relationship between suicide and economic fluctuation; this association was positive during the contraction period (1926–1950) and negative in the period of economic expansion (1951–1973). Males and females showed differential effects in the period of moderate unemployment (1974–2008). In addition, the suicide rate of mid-adults (45–64) was most impacted by economic fluctuations. Our study tends to support Durkheim’s theory and suggests the need for public health responses in times of economic contraction and expansion.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Division of Clinical Epidemiology, Department of Medicine, McGill University, and Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC), Montreal, Quebec, Canada 2: Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Publication date: May 27, 2016

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