BACKGROUND: Adversity early in life has been suggested as a protective factor for elderly suicides. However, studies examining this relationship in general population suicide rates are scarce. METHODS: The relationship between general population suicide rates and four proxy measures of adversity earlier in life was examined using data from the World Health Organization and the United Nations data banks. RESULTS: General population suicide rates were negatively correlated with the percentage of children under the age of 5 years who were underweight, the percentage of children under the age of 5 years who were under height, the percentage of infants with low birth weight babies, and the percentage of the general population that was undernourished. The only independent predictor general population suicide rates in both sexes, on multiple regression analysis, was the Gini coefficient (a measure of income inequality). CONCLUSIONS: Income inequality may lead to low birth weight, undernourishment, underweight and under height because income inequality results in poor access to healthcare and nutrition. These adversities may increase child mortality rates and reduce life expectancy. Those surviving into adulthood in countries with greater adversity early in life may be at reduced risk of suicide because of selective survival of those at reduced risk of suicide due to constitutional or genetic factors and development of greater tolerance to hardship in adulthood.
J Inj Violence Res. 2011 Jan; 3(1): 25-7. doi: 10.5249/jivr.v3i1.70
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