Geography of suicide in Taiwan: Spatial patterning and socioeconomic correlates

Shu-Sen Chang, Jonathan A C Sterne, Benedict W Wheeler, Tsung-Hsueh Lu, Jin-Jia Lin, David Gunnell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

89 Citations (Scopus)


In industrialised Western nations suicide rates tend to be high in inner city areas and socially fragmented neighbourhoods. Few studies have investigated spatial variations in suicide in non-Western settings. We estimated smoothed standardised mortality ratios (1999-2007) for suicide for each of the 358 Taiwanese districts (median population aged 15+: 27,000) and investigated their associations with area characteristics using Bayesian hierarchical models. The geographic distribution of suicide was similar in men and women; young people showed the greatest spatial variation in rates. Rates were highest in East Taiwan, a mostly mountainous rural area. There was no evidence of above average rates in large cities. Spatial patterns of method-specific suicide rates varied markedly, with solids/liquids poisonings showing the greatest geographic variation and hangings the least. Factors most strongly associated with area suicide rates were median household income, population density and lone-parent households. Spatial patterning of suicide in Taiwan differed from that observed in Western nations. Suicide prevention strategies should take into account unique local patterns.
Translated title of the contributionGeography of suicide in Taiwan: Spatial patterning and socioeconomic correlates
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)641 - 650
Number of pages10
JournalHealth and Place
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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