Incidence of female suicide in New York City: how important are socioeconomic factors?
After a steady decline in the incidence of suicide in the last 3 decades of the twentieth century, suicide rates in the US and likewise in New York City (NYC) began to rise. A breakdown of the city’s rates by gender reveals that since 2000, suicides among men had held steady while the rate among women had increased in every age group, in divergence from the national pattern of rising rates in both genders. This study considers a broad range of socioeconomic variables to identify those most strongly associated with suicide rates of women in NYC.
Drawing on 4 decades of data from the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey, the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s Vital Statistics and the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program, we use an Autoregressive Distributed Lag (ARDL) model to estimate short and long run relationships between suicide rates in women aged 15–44 and a range of socioeconomic factors.
We find a positive aggregate association between women’s suicide rates and the unemployment rate, the White percentage of the city’s population, the number of forcible rapes reported in the crime statistics, and a negative association between suicide and abortion rates.
The results of the study suggest that labor market conditions, rather than societal factors such as marriage or fertility rates affect younger women’s suicide rates in NYC. Second, sexual violence against women, found in micro studies to have severe long-term negative effects on victims’ mental health is also positively associated with the aggregate suicide rate. Finally, higher abortion rates correspond with lower suicide rates at the city level, but the mechanisms behind this link are not as clear, since micro studies find little association between unwanted pregnancy termination and mental health.
KeywordsSuicides in women New York City Socio economic variables Cointegration ARDL
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.
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