Canada has a high rate of suicide among adolescents and youth--higher than the rate in the United States. The study of variation in societal suicide rates is still guided primarily by Durkheim's (1897) theory which proposed a primarily social integration/regulation theory of suicide. There is evidence that social and economic predictors of suicide vary depending upon the particular subgroup--women or men, and young or old. Rates of birth, divorce, marriage, and unemployment were analyzed and compared to rates of suicide from 1965-1985 in Canada and the United States for particular subgroups. In Canada, measures of domestic integration (divorce and birth rates) and the economy (unemployment rate) predicted youth suicide rates more successfully than they did adult suicide rates. In the United States for the same period, there was less variation in the predictors of suicide by age. Further research as well as caution about overgeneralizing the results are warranted.
The associations of divorce, marriage, and birth rates with suicide rates in Denmark from 1950-1985 were similar regardless of whether suicide rates were based on the total population or the population 15 years and older.
Canada's rate of suicide varies from province to province. The classical theory of suicide, which attempts to explain the social suicide rate, stems from Durkheim, who argued that low levels of social integration and regulation are associated with high rates of suicide. The present study explored whether social factors (divorce, marriage, and birth rates) do in fact predict suicide rates over time for each province (period studied: 1950-1990). The results showed a positive association between divorce rates and suicide rates, and a negative association between birth rates and suicide rates. Marriage rates showed no consistent association, an anomaly as compared to research from other nations.
Ecological studies of regional suicide rates in Russian oblasts and krais and American states revealed that the clustering of social indicators and the social correlates of regional homicide rates were different in the two nations. However, indices of social distress (unemployment and illegitimate births) predicted homicide rates in both nations. The study pointed out the importance of replicating research in several nations in order to explore the generality of research findings and theories.
Data from Fortier, et al. (1989) were reanalysed using multiple regression. While birth and divorce rates were significantly associated with both male and female suicide rates, unemployment rates and cirrhosis death rates were associated only with male suicide rates.