Skip to main content
Log in

Rural−urban differences in Austrian suicides

  • Published:
Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology Aims and scope Submit manuscript



The answer to the question whether suicide rates are higher in urban than in rural areas may have changed over the years. This study analyzes the longitudinal trends of rural and urban suicides in Austria from 1970 to 2005. The most recent decade, 1995–2005 was also investigated cross-sectionally in terms of age groups, gender, suicide methods and family status.


Official suicide statistics were calculated in a Poisson regression model to determine trends in suicide rates according to gender in rural and urban regions as well as the ratios of rural- to urban-suicide rates. Population density levels were used as a measure of urbanization. Differences in suicide rates across the rural–urban categories were investigated in terms of genders, age groups, suicide methods and family status using Spearman correlations.


The ratio of rural to urban suicide rates has continuously increased in both genders over the past 35 years, indicating a growing risk in rural areas. Suicide methods used in rural and urban areas vary significantly and suicide rates among men, but not women, were found to decrease with increasing urbanicity.


In line with recent findings from other western countries, we showed a growing gap between rural and urban suicide rates. This suggests a need for rural-specific suicide prevention efforts, especially aimed at the male rural population.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2

Similar content being viewed by others


  1. Ben Park BC, Lester D (2006) Social integration and suicide in South Korea. Crisis 27:48–50

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  2. Burnley IH (1995) Socioeconomic and spatial differentials in mortality and means of committing suicide in New South Wales, Australia, 1985–91. Soc Sci Med 41:687–698

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  3. Caldwell TM, Jorm AF, Dear KB (2004) Suicide and mental health in rural, remote and metropolitan areas in Australia. Med J Aust 181(7 Suppl):S10–14

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  4. Cutright P, Stack S, Fernquist RM (2006) The age structures and marital status differences of married and not married male suicide rates: 12 developed countries. Arch Suicide Res 10:365–382

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  5. Daigle MS (2005) Suicide prevention through means restriction: assessing the risk of substitution. A critical review and synthesis. Accid Anal Prev 37:625–632

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  6. Dudley M, Kelk N, Florio T, Howard J, Waters B, Haski C, Alcock M (1997) Suicide among young rural Australians 1964–1993: a comparison with metropolitan trends. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol 32:251–260

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  7. Etzersdorfer E, Kapusta ND, Sonneck G (2006) Suicide by shooting is correlated to rate of gun licenses in Austrian counties. Wien Klin Wochenschr 118:464–468

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  8. Greenland S (2001) Ecologic versus individual-level sources of bias in ecologic estimates of contextual health effects. Int J Epidemiol 30:1343–1350

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  9. Gunnell DJ, Peters TJ, Kammerling RM, Brooks J (1995) Relation between parasuicide, suicide, psychiatric admissions, and socioeconomic deprivation. BMJ 311:226–230

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  10. Hempstead K (2006) The geography of self-injury: spatial patterns in attempted and completed suicide. Soc Sci Med 62:3186–3196

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  11. Hill SA, Pritchard C, Laugharne R, Gunnell D (2005) Changing patterns of suicide in a poor, rural county over the 20th century: a comparison with national trends. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol 40:601–604

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  12. Hirsch JK (2006) A review of the literature on rural suicide: risk and protective factors, incidence, and prevention. Crisis 27:189–199

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  13. Hunt K, Sweeting H, Keoghan M, Platt S (2007) Sex, gender role orientation, gender role attitudes and suicidal thoughts in three generations. A general population study. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol 41:641–647

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Judd F, Cooper AM, Fraser C, Davis J (2006) Rural suicide––people or place effects? Aust N Z J Psychiatry 40:208–216

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  15. Kapusta ND, Etzersdorfer E, Krall C, Sonneck G (2007) Firearm Legislation Reform in the European Union: its impact on firearm availability, firearm suicide and homicide rates in Austria. Br J Psychiatry 191:253–257

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  16. Kelleher MJ, Keeley HS, Corcoran P (1997) The service implications of regional differences in suicide rates in the Republic of Ireland. Ir Med J 90:262–264

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  17. Kölbinger M (2003). Divorces in Upper Austria 2002. Upper Austria State Government, Buerau of Statistics, Linz, p 7

  18. Leenaars AA (2006) Suicide by shooting and gun ownership (licenses) in Austria: would gun restriction help? Wien Klin Wochenschr 118:439–441

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  19. Levin KA, Leyland AH (2005) Urban/rural inequalities in suicide in Scotland, 1981–1999. Soc Sci Med 60:2877–2890

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  20. Lin JJ, Lu TH (2006) Association between the accessibility to lethal methods and method-specific suicide rates: an ecological study in Taiwan. J Clin Psychiatry 67:1074–1079

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  21. McLaren S, Hopes LM (2002) Rural–urban differences in reasons for living. Aust N Z J Psychiatry 36:688–692

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  22. Middleton N, Gunnell D, Frankel S, Whitley E, Dorling D (2003) Urban–rural differences in suicide trends in young adults: England and Wales, 1981–1998. Soc Sci Med 57:1183–1194

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  23. Morrell S, Taylor R, Slaytor E, Ford P (1999) Urban and rural suicide differentials in migrants and the Australian-born, New South Wales, Australia 1985–1994. Soc Sci Med 49:81–91

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  24. Page A, Morrell S, Taylor R, Carter G, Dudley M (2006) Divergent trends in suicide by socio-economic status in Australia. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol 41:911–917

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  25. Phillips MR, Li X, Zhang Y (2002) Suicide rates in China, 1995–99. Lancet 359:835–840

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  26. Qin P (2005) Suicide risk in relation to level of urbanicity––a population-based linkage study. Int J Epidemiol 34:846–852

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  27. Sakr L, Bibus B, Dutz W, Feigl W, Hackl H, Hanak H et al (1989) Zur hohen Autopsierate in Wien. Wien Klin Wochenschr 101:511–514

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  28. Singh GK, Siahpush M (2002) Increasing rural–urban gradients in US suicide mortality, 1970–1997. Am J Public Health 92:1161–1167

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  29. Sonneck G (2000) Suizide und Suizidprävention in Österreich. Wien Klin Wochenschr 112:943–946

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  30. Statistics Austria (2007) Statistical yearbook 2007. Population. Statistics Austria, Vienna, p 41

  31. Taylor R, Page A, Morrell S, Harrison J, Carter G (2005) Social and psychiatric influences on urban–rural differentials in Australian suicide. Suicide Life Threat Behav 35:277–290

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  32. Waldhoer T, Berzlanovich A, Vutuc C, Haidinger G (2003) Rates of postmortem examination in Austria: the effect of distance between location of death and site of examination. J Clin Epidemiol 56:891–895

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  33. Zacharakis CA, Madianos MG, Papadimitriou GN, Stefanis CN (1998) Suicide in Greece 1980–1995: patterns and social factors. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol 33:471–476

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Nestor D. Kapusta MD.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Kapusta, N.D., Zorman, A., Etzersdorfer, E. et al. Rural−urban differences in Austrian suicides. Soc Psychiat Epidemiol 43, 311–318 (2008).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

Key words