Academic journal article The Israel Journal of Psychiatry and Related Sciences

Use of Age-Adjusted Rates of Suicide in Time Series Studies in Israel

Academic journal article The Israel Journal of Psychiatry and Related Sciences

Use of Age-Adjusted Rates of Suicide in Time Series Studies in Israel

Article excerpt

Abstract: Durkheims modified theory of suicide was examined to explore how consistent it was in predicting Israeli rates of suicide from 1965 to 1997 when using age-adjusted rates rather than crude ones. In this time-series study, Israeli male and female rates of suicide increased and decreased, respectively, between 1965 and 1997. Conforming to Durkheims modified theory, the Israeli male rate of suicide was lower in years when rates of marriage and birth are higher, while rates of suicide are higher in years when rates of divorce are higher, the opposite to that of Israeli women. The corrected regression coefficients suggest that the Israeli female rate of suicide remained lower in years when rate of divorce is higher, again the opposite suggested by Durkheims modified theory. These results may indicate that divorce affects the mental health of Israeli women as suggested by their lower rate of suicide. Perhaps the "multiple roles held by Israeli females creates suicidogenic stress" and divorce provides some sense of stress relief, mentally speaking. The results were not as consistent with predictions suggested by Durkheims modified theory of suicide as were rates from the United States for the same period nor were they consistent with rates based on "crude" suicide data. Thus, using age-adjusted rates of suicide had an influence on the prediction of the Israeli rate of suicide during this period.

(ProQuest: ... denotes formulae omitted.)

Introduction

Durkheim (1) proposed a sociological theory of suicide which remains the most powerful theory for predicting rates of suicide for a social collectivity. He argued that two broad social characteristics affect rates of suicide. The first characteristic is social integration, i.e., the extent to which members of the society are bound together in social networks or groups (2). According to Durkheim people who are not integrated into the society that they live in are more likely to kill themselves. He argued that people have a certain level of attachment to their groups, which he called social integration. Durkheim (3) reported "We have set up the following three propositions:

Suicide varies inversely with the degree of integration of religious society.

Suicide varies inversely with the degree of integration of domestic society.

Suicide varies inversely with the degree of integration of political society" (p. 208).

The second characteristic is social regulation, i.e., the extent to which the desires, emotions and behaviors of the members of the society are controlled by social norms and customs (2). Durkheim believed immunity [from suicide] was conferred by a single quality common to these three groupings, i.e., that all are strongly integrated social groups. Durkheim (1) reported reaching a general conclusion, i.e., "suicide varies inversely with the degree of integration of the social groups of which the individual forms a part" (p. 208).

More recently, Johnson (4) reported that it is difficult to empiricaUy distinguish the two characteristics, social integration and social regulation, and he suggested a simpler theory whereby these characteristics were combined into one, i.e., the single characteristic social integration/regulation. Johnson (4) suggested that the relationship between rates of suicide and level of "social integration/regulation" is inversely associated in societies. Thus, one could predict from this modified version of Durkheim's theory that as the rate of suicide decreases, the level of "social integration/regulation" increases and vice versa. Rates of marriage, birth and divorce are used as measures of "social integration/regulation." For example, predictions using Durkheim's modified theory are as foUows:

suicide [arrow up][arrow up] divorce or suicide [arrow down][arrow down] F divorce (positive association)

suicide [arrow up][arrow down] marriage/birth or suicide [arrow down][arrow up] marriage/ birth (negative or inverse association). …

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