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Preliminary spatiotemporal analysis of the association between socio-environmental factors and suicide

Xin Qi1, Shilu Tong1* and Wenbiao Hu12

Author Affiliations

1 School of Public Health, and Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, Queensland University of Technology, Kelvin Grove, Queensland 4059, Australia

2 School of Population Health, University of Queensland, Herston, Queensland 4006, Australia

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Environmental Health 2009, 8:46  doi:10.1186/1476-069X-8-46

Published: 1 October 2009



The seasonality of suicide has long been recognised. However, little is known about the relative importance of socio-environmental factors in the occurrence of suicide in different geographical areas. This study examined the association of climate, socioeconomic and demographic factors with suicide in Queensland, Australia, using a spatiotemporal approach.


Seasonal data on suicide, demographic variables and socioeconomic indexes for areas in each Local Government Area (LGA) between 1999 and 2003 were acquired from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Climate data were supplied by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology. A multivariable generalized estimating equation model was used to examine the impact of socio-environmental factors on suicide.


The preliminary data analyses show that far north Queensland had the highest suicide incidence (e.g., Cook and Mornington Shires), while the south-western areas had the lowest incidence (e.g., Barcoo and Bauhinia Shires) in all the seasons. Maximum temperature, unemployment rate, the proportion of Indigenous population and the proportion of population with low individual income were statistically significantly and positively associated with suicide. There were weaker but not significant associations for other variables.


Maximum temperature, the proportion of Indigenous population and unemployment rate appeared to be major determinants of suicide at a LGA level in Queensland.