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Open Access Research article

Seasonal patterns of suicides over the period of socio-economic transition in Lithuania

Ramune Kalediene*, Skirmante Starkuviene and Jadvyga Petrauskiene

Author Affiliations

Department of Social Medicine, Kaunas University of Medicine, Kaunas, A. Mickeviciaus St 9, LT-44307 Kaunas, Lithuania

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BMC Public Health 2006, 6:40  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-6-40

Published: 22 February 2006

Abstract

Background

In Lithuania, suicides are a grave public health problem, requiring more extensive investigation. The aim of the study was to assess the seasonal variations of suicides in Lithuania throughout the years 1993–2002, describing patterns by gender, age and method of suicide.

Methods

The study material consisted of all registered suicides (n = 16,147) committed throughout 1993–2002 in Lithuania. Smoothed trends were inspected. The seasonal effect was explored using monthly ratio statistics and spectral analysis.

Results

Suicides in Lithuania have a distinct annual rhythm with peaks in summer and troughs in December. The December frequencies fell by more than 23% in men and 30% in women, while June peak reached nearly 23% in men and July peak exceeded 29% in women, compare with the average levels, (p < 0.05). Hanging was the most common method of suicide both in men and women comprising up to 90% among all suicides in 1998–2002. Among different methods, only hanging suicides showed significant seasonal variations, especially in men. The seasonal amplitude has decreased over time.

Conclusion

Substantial seasonal variations in suicides were associated with a high proportion of hanging. Extremely high suicide rates in Lithuania require further extensive studies and urgent preventive programs, taking into account the suggestions of this survey.