Gender and age-specific dynamics of suicides in the Baltic States during the transition period


Liina-Mai Tooding1, Airi Värnik2, Danuta Wasserman3


1University of Tartu, Estonia

2Estonian-Swedish Institute of Suicidology, Estonia and
Estonian Centre of Behavioural and Health Sciences, Estonia

 3Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden



Abstract. A strong age-specific differentiation in the dynamics of suicide risk in all age groups observed during the transition period in the three Baltic states has been established. Considering that the dynamics of suicide risk had regular cyclic character, it could be suggested that the factor of cyclical character is external. The pooled rates of the three Baltic countries show rising trends of suicide rates among the youngest and 45–75 year old men, but not in the age group of 25–34. For women there is a clear rise in 15–24 age group and fall among 25–34 year olds, while the other age groups lack clear trends. The lack of valid description on macro processes that took place in the Baltic countries over the transi­tion period enables to draw only a few possible correlations between suicides and social determinants, like alcohol misuse, unemployment, change in society from collectivist to an individualist type of behaviour and family discord. The age group of 25–34 year-olds with an innovative attitude and appropriate education was quite successful on the labour market at the start of the reforms and could manage in new conditions, while persons belonging to older generations faced stressful difficulties in maintaining their quite stable and often successful careers. The growth of relative suicide risk in the youngest age group (15–24) may be caused by hardships in entering the labour market due to a lack of competition advantages, inadequate education and work experience.