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Open Access Research article

Suicide mortality trends by sex, age and method in Taiwan, 1971–2005

Jin-Jia Lin1 and Tsung-Hsueh Lu2*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Psychiatry, Chi-Mei Medical Center, Tainan, Taiwan

2 Institute of Public Health, College of Medicine, National Cheng Kung University, No 1, Dah Hsueh Road, Tainan 701, Taiwan

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BMC Public Health 2008, 8:6  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-8-6

Published: 8 January 2008

Abstract

Background

Method-specific suicide trends varied across countries, and studies of the trends in different countries can contribute to the understanding of the epidemiology of suicide. The purpose of this study was to examine the changes in suicide trends by sex, age and method in the years 1971 to 2005 in Taiwan.

Methods

Mortality data files of suicide and undetermined deaths for the years 1971–2005 were obtained for analyses. Age-, sex- and method-specific suicide rates were calculated by four age groups (15–24, 25–44, 45–64 and 65 and above) and five suicide methods (solids/liquids poisoning, other gases poisoning, hanging, jumping, and others).

Results

Both sexes experienced downward trends from 1971 to 1993, and then an upward trend since 1993. People aged 65 years and above had the highest suicide rates throughout the study periods. However, males aged 25–64 years experienced the steepest increasing trends. As to suicide methods, an annual increase, since 1991, of people jumping from heights to commit suicide, and a marked increase, since 1998, of people completing suicide by poisoning with other gases (mainly charcoal-burning) were observed.

Conclusion

Suicide by means of charcoal-burning and jumping from heights has become a serious public health problem in Taiwan. Preventive measures to curb these increasing trends are urgently needed.