Gregory Luke Larkin, M.D., M.S., M.S.P.H., Yale University School of Medicine
Distinguished Investigator Grant (2008): $99,998
Suicide Clusters Across the Globe: Geospatial Trends from America, Ireland and New Zealand
Abstract: Suicides which occur close together in time and/or space, beyond the rate which would be normally be expected in a community, tend to be regarded as forming a suicide “cluster.” This study plans to gather data about suicide clusters at multiple sites in three countries: America, Ireland and New Zealand. Using a mixture of statistical techniques including descriptive statistics and geospatial mapping, the study will explore the extent to which the scientific scrutiny of suicide clusters using modern statistical techniques can add to current understanding about the frequency with which clusters occur, their characteristics, mechanisms and trends. There is increasing concern about allegedly rising numbers of suicide clusters, particularly in rural areas and in youth; however, there has been remarkably little study of this phenomenon to inform community and professional responses to emerging or suspected clusters. Initially, spatial scan and time series statistics will be used to analyze geospatially-linked mortality data in order to examine the incidence of suicide clusters in the five-year period 2001/2-2005/6 and time trends in selected geographic areas from 1984-2006. This study will provide an evidence base for developing cluster prevention and interruption strategies.