Associations between social fragmentation, socioeconomic deprivation and suicide risk across 1887 municipalities in Japan, 2009-2017: a spatial analysis using the Bayesian hierarchical model

Eiji Yoshioka* (Corresponding Author), Sharon Hanley, Yukihiro Sato, Yasuaki Saijo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: Previous studies have indicated that spatial variation in suicide mortality is associated with area-specific socioeconomic characteristics, such as socioeconomic deprivation and social fragmentation. However, most of these studies have been conducted in the West and findings from Asian countries are limited. This study aims to investigate associations between socioeconomic characteristics and suicide mortality rates across 1887 municipalities in Japan between 2009 and 2017. We also assessed these associations by gender and age group.

METHODS: Suicide data were obtained from the suicide statistics of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare in Japan and included information on the number of suicides by gender, age and municipality location. Social fragmentation, socioeconomic deprivation and urbanicity were used as socioeconomic characteristics in this study and were created from survey data obtained from the 2010 census. Bayesian hierarchical models were used to examine associations between socioeconomic characteristics and suicide risk.

RESULTS: Suicide rates were significantly higher in municipalities with higher levels of deprivation, with a rate ratio of 1.13 (95% credible interval: 1.10 to 1.17) in the highest quartile compared with the lowest. Higher levels of urbanicity had significantly lower suicide rates, with a rate ratio of 0.79 (95% credible interval: 0.77 to 0.82) in the highest quartile compared with the lowest. However, associations between exposures and suicide varied considerably by gender and age. Among both men and women aged 0-39 years, fragmentation was significantly associated with suicide, with rate ratios of 1.07 and 1.15 for men and women, respectively, in the highest quartile compared with the lowest.

CONCLUSION: Suicide prevention in Japan should particularly focus on areas with high levels of deprivation or low levels of urbanicity. Furthermore, young Japanese people residing in the most fragmented municipalities were also at high risk of suicide, and appropriate measures need to be taken.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere063255
Number of pages13
JournalBMJ Open
Volume12
Issue number8
Early online date30 Aug 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 30 Aug 2022

Keywords

  • Bayes Theorem
  • Cities/epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Japan/epidemiology
  • Male
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Spatial Analysis
  • Suicide

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