October 24, 2010

Epidemiological issues regarding suicides in Ecuador: an 8-year report

New original article published online by our research team.
Paper:  Epidemiological issues regarding suicides in Ecuador: an 8-year report, of Fabricio González-Andrade, Ramiro López-Pulles, Santiago Gascón and Javier García Campayo. Published in Journal of Public Health, DOI: 10.1007/s10389-010-0372-4.

This study is part of a research network and the initiative called Biomedical Research and Public Health in Ecuador (INBIOSEC, Investigación Biomédica y Salud Pública en Ecuador) which aims to improve health policies through targeted research. The authors are grateful to the researchers and health authorities that support this initiative.

Aim: The aim of this study was to analyze the epidemiological issues related to suicide in Ecuadorians.
Subject and methods: This is an observational, descriptive, and epidemiological study. The data used in this study arise from the National Institute of Statistics and Censuses register. The study analyzed gender, sex, and method used in suicide and undefined cases.
Results: Every year in Ecuador 801 individuals die by suicide, with a prevalence rate (PR) of 60.55 deaths per million population (pmp). Suicide is the cause of 1.4% of all deaths in Ecuador. By gender, men account for 70.96% (PR = 42.49 pmp), while the percentage in women is only 29.04% (PR = 17.58 pmp). The male to female ratio is ~2:1; 76.79% of all the cases involved individuals between 15 and 50 years of age. The most common method of suicide is hanging, strangulation, or suffocation (44.35%), followed by unspecified chemicals (20.37%) and pesticide poisoning (20.07%). Every year in Ecuador 352.6 individuals die by unspecified events or undetermined intents. These events could be a source of hidden suicides. By gender, men account for 76.39% (PR = 20.35 ppm). The male to female ratio is ~3:1.
Conclusion: Suicide in Ecuador has increased in a constant and progressive way, even though there is major underreporting of these cases. The main method to commit suicide was hanging followed by pesticide poisoning. Suicide prevalence rates were similar to neighboring countries in South America, with the exception of Uruguay. Unspecified events or undetermined intents could be a source of hidden suicides, a fact that needs further analysis.

Keywords:  Suicide, Ecuador, Epidemiology, Public health, Unspecified event - Pesticides