A cohort analysis was undertaken of the 4,315 deaths by suicide registered in Alberta, Canada, Vital Statistics between the years of 1951 and 1977, inclusive. Age, gender, and year of death were available in all but two instances. Five-year age cohorts were identified and their suicide rates were followed as the cohorts aged. Analyses were done for men and women separately and combined. Suicide rates increased directly with age, regardless of gender for each cohort observed. Once a cohort entered the 15- to 19-year-old age range with a high rate of suicide, the rate for that cohort remained consistently high as it aged.
The changing contribution of suicide among young persons to the entire suicide profile was examined. Using Alberta Vital Statistics data for the years 1951 to 1977 inclusive, suicide age profiles were constructed for each census year; age-specific changes in rates were compared; suicides by persons aged 15 to 29 years were expressed as a percentage of all suicides 15 years old and older by year and compared to corresponding population figures. Analyses were done for men and women separately and combined. The suicide age profile has shown a significant rise in rates among the young compared with older age groups and the number of suicides by persons between the ages of 15 and 29 has increased to a greater extent than can be explained by shifts in the age structure of the Alberta population.