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Soc Sci Med. 2000 Nov;51(9):1405-20.

Eastern European transition and suicide mortality.

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Stockholm Centre on Health of Societies in Transition, University College of South Stockholm, Huddinge, Sweden.


The current paper seeks to systematize the discussion on the causes of the changes in Eastern European countries' suicide mortality during the last 15 years by analyzing the changes in relation to some common causes: alcohol consumption, economic changes, "general pathogenic social stress", political changes, and social disorganization. It is found that the developments in suicide have been very different in different countries, and that the same causes cannot apply to all of them. However, the relation between suicide mortality and social processes is obvious. A model consisting of the hypothetical general stress (as indicated by mortality/life expectancy), democratization, alcohol consumption, and social disorganization (with a period-dependent effect) predicted the percentual changes in the suicide rates in 16 out of the 28 Eastern Bloc countries in 1984-89 and 1989-94 fairly accurately, while it failed to do this for Albania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and the Caucasian and Central Asian newly independent states. Most interesting were the strong roles played by changes in life expectancy, the causes of which are discussed, and the fact that economic change seemed to lack explanatory power in multiple analyses. The data are subject to many potential sources of error, the small number of units and the large multicollinearity between the independent variables may distort the results. Nevertheless, the results indicate that the changes in Eastern European suicide mortality, both decreases and increases, may be explained with the same set of variables. However, more than one factor is needed, and the multicollinearity will continue to pose problems.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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