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Recent research has shown an association between unemployment and suicide, but the mediating factors in this relationship are still unknown. In this study, we investigated the effect of unemployment and economic recession on suicide rates in the Spanish region of Galicia between 1975 and 2012
We analysed age-standardised suicide rates in men and women and in four age groups: less than 25 years, 25–45 years, 45–65 years and more than 65 years and performed a joinpoint analysis to determine trend changes throughout 1975–2012 period. Also we analysed the association between suicide, recession and unemployment by means of a temporal trend model with a Generalised Additive Model.
Suicide rates increased from 145 suicides in 1975 to a high in 1993, with 377 deaths by suicide, representing 1.38% of all causes of death, and thereafter they tend to decrease to 335 suicides in 2012. Joinpoint analyses revealed that suicide rates changed differently across sex and age groups. For men, the annual percentage of change (APC) between 1975 and 1988 (CI 95% 1986–1994) was 5.45 (CI 95% = 3.5, −7.2) but from 1988 the APC became negative [−0.66 (CI 95% = −1.3, −0.1)]. For women, APC between 1974 and 1990 (CI 95% 1986–1992) was 4.86 (CI 95% = 3.2, −6.4) and −1.46 subsequently (CI 95% = −2.2, −0.5). Women aged 24 years or less showed stable suicide rates while men from 45–65 years showed two incidence peaks. When we studied the independent correlation between unemployment, recession and suicide, we found a significant association between unemployment and suicide, but not between recession and suicide for both sexes together and for men while for women there was no significant correlation between suicide and unemployment or recession. Finally, when we studied the effect of the interaction between unemployment and recession on suicide we found economic recession and unemployment interacted with regards to suicide rates (F = 5.902; df = 4.167; p = 0.00098) and after adjusting by sex, the effect was confirmed among men (F = 4.827; df = 2.823; p = 0.0087), but not among women (F = 0.001; df = 1.000; p = 0.979).
Although suicide rates in Galicia are gradually decreasing in the last decades, there are important sex and age differences. Unemployment was related with suicide during economic recession periods according to our results.
The mechanisms by which childhood abuse and family history of suicidal behavior (FHS) lead to an increased risk of suicidal behavior are still unknown. Impulsive aggression may play an intermediate role. We investigated whether greater scores for aggression and impulsivity might be associated with the effects of FHS and/or childhood abuse on the severity of suicidal behavior.
We examined the scores of three scales measuring impulsive aggression in a sample of 696 suicide attempters. We compared the highest and lowest scores with regard to reports of childhood abuse and FHS using adjusted multinomial regression models. Genetic polymorphisms of the serotonergic system known to be associated with impulsive aggression were also analyzed.
Patients with high impulsive aggressive scores showed significant differences in sociodemographic, clinical and suicidal features compared with patients with low impulsive aggressive scores. Adjusted results showed that combinations of some types of childhood abuse and FHS, particularly emotional abuse and emotional neglect, are associated with high impulsivity and hostility scores. The SS genotype of the serotonin transporter gene (5-HTTLPR) was associated with high levels of impulsivity when the subjects reported emotional abuse [odds ratio (OR) 5.55, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.75–17.5] or physical abuse (OR 5.03, 95% CI 1.50–16.9) in their childhood.
Our results support the role of impulsive aggression as one of the links that may connect childhood abuse and FHS with severity of suicidal behavior.
Polymorphic variations in the serotonin transporter gene (5-HTT) moderate the depressogenic effects of tryptophan depletion. After childbirth there is a sharp reduction in brain tryptophan availability, thus polymorphic variations in 5-HTT may play a similar role in the post-partum period.
To study the role of 5-HTT polymorphic variations in mood changes after delivery.
One thousand, eight hundred and four depression-free Spanish women were studied post-partum. We evaluated depressive symptoms at 2–3 days, 8 weeks and 32 weeks post-partum. We used diagnostic interview to confirm major depression for all probable cases. Based on two polymorphisms of 5-HTT (5-HTTLPR and STin2 VNTR), three genotype combinations were created to reflect different levels of 5-HTT expression.
One hundred and seventy-three women (12.7%) experienced major depression during the 32-week post-partum period. Depressive symptoms were associated with the high-expression 5-HTT genotypes in a dose–response fashion at 8 weeks post-partum, but not at 32 weeks.
High-expression 5-HTT genotypes may render women more vulnerable to depressive symptoms after childbirth.