Predicting the natural suicide rate in Belgium

Karl Andriessen, Karolina Krysinska, David Lester

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This paper presents results of a time series (1950-1997) and an ecological study of suicide and homicide in Belgium and its ten provinces. Study 1 was based on Durkheim’s classic theory of suicide and Henry and Short’s model of suicide and homicide. Study 2 calculated the ‘natural suicide rate’, i.e. suicide rate if the social conditions are made ‘ideal’ (zero divorce and unemployment rates). Study 1 found that the rates of suicide in Belgium over time were positively associated with unemployment and divorce rates, and negatively correlated with marriage and birth rates. On the level of provinces only population density and ethnicity correlated with suicide. Contrary to Henry and Short’s theory, the homicide and suicide rates showed similar associations with social indicators. The natural suicide rate in Belgium was 12.1 per 100,000 (time series study) and 10.9 per 100,000 (ecological study). The studies supported the assumptions that the association between social variables and suicide differs depending on the aggregation level and even if the socio-economic conditions were made ‘ideal’ from the sociological point of view, the suicide rate in Belgium would still be positive and nonzero.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-20
Number of pages6
JournalSuicidology Online
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes

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