Depression and Suicide Publication Analysis, Using Density Equalizing Mapping and Output Benchmarking

Article excerpt

Byline: B. Vogelzang, C. Scutaru, S. Mache, K. Vitzthum, David. Quarcoo, D. Groneberg

Background: Depression is a major cause of suicide worldwide. This association has been reflected by numerous scientific publications reporting about studies to this theme. There is currently no overall evaluation of the global research activities in this field. Aim: The aim of the current study was to analyze long-term developments and recent research trends in this area. Material and Methods: We searched the Web of Science databases developed by the Thompson Institute of Scientific Information for items concerning depression and suicide published between 1900 and 2007 and analyzed the results using scientometric methods and density-equalizing calculations. Results: We found that publications on this topic increased dramatically in the time period 1990 to 2007. The comparison of the different Journals showed that the Archives of General Psychiatry had the highest average citation rate (more than twice that of any other Journal). When comparing authors, we found that not all the authors who had high h-indexes cooperated much with other authors. The analysis of countries who published papers on this topic showed that they published papers in relation to their Gross Domestic Product and Purchasing Power Parity. Among the G8 countries, Russia had the highest male suicide rate in 1999 (more than twice that of any of the other G8 countries), despite having published least papers and cooperating least with other countries among the G8. Conclusion: We conclude that, although there has been an increase in publications on this topic from 1990 to 2006, this increase is of a lower gradient than that of psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis.


During the times of ancient Rome, suicide was seen as a honorable way to die. Ship captains would commit suicide if they lost their ships and admirals would kill themselves when they lost a battle, rather than to face the humiliation of going home in defeat. This is nicely portrayed in the blockbuster movie "Ben Hur," when the main character prevents an admiral from killing himself when he loses his ship in a battle, only to find out that they actually won the battle. This tendency of "honourable suicide" went even further in those days, as wealthy citizens would have a big party to celebrate the fact that they were going to kill themselves. Suicide has also been used as an "honourable" way to kill other people. This way of thinking was evident among the Japanese kamikaze pilots in World War II, where the pilots would fly their planes into allied battle ships. Unfortunately, this thinking pattern still persists in the 21 [sup]st century, as was so clearly seen in the tragic events of September 11, 2001. [sup][1]

From the amount of papers published on suicide over the last century, it is clear that this opinion is not shared by the majority of researchers. Suicide is seen as something that we want to prevent, a condition that goes against a deep conviction of the value of life. This is a view that is expressed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) mental health gap action program, in which services for the prevention of suicide (among others) are offered to countries with low to middle income. [sup][2] Beyond the humanistic reasons to prevent suicide, there is clear evidence of the dangers of suicide to society. Suicide can be a major financial burden for a country, as suicide attempts cost the US government approximately $581 million on hospitalization in 1994, [sup][3] and suicide was the fourth leading cause of Years of Professional Life Lost (YPLL) in the USA in 2002. [sup][4] Suicide can also be a medical problem as it rated as the fourth leading cause of death among men in the middle ages of life. [sup][5] The burden of suicide to a country also has an impact on the next generation, as the suicide rate among youths in the US has tripled from 1950 to 2002. [sup][6] As a result of the evidence of the impact of suicide on society, suicide prevention was regarded as a national priority in the USA in the 21 [sup]st century in the President's New Freedom Commission on mental health in 2002. …