Objective: Suicide is increasingly recognized as a worldwide problem. There is a paucity of quality data pertaining to suicide in developing countries. Epidemiological analysis of suicide data elucidates prevailing patterns that facilitate risk factor identification and the development of germane programmatic responses. This paper analyses temporal variations in suicide rates for the years 2002–2010 in Jamaica and describes the sociodemographic profile of cases and method of suicide for the latter four years.
Method: Data pertaining to suicides were extracted from the police (The Jamaica Constabulary Force) records. These were summarized and analysed with respect to person, place and time. Population statistics for the computation of rates were obtained from publications of the Statistical Institute of Jamaica. Age-standardized rates were generated for comparison of trends over time. Poisson and binomial probabilities were used to determine statistically significant differences in rates.
Results: Suicide rates in Jamaica have remained relatively stable for the period reviewed with mean overall annual incidence of 2.1 per 100 000 population. Rates for males were significantly higher than those for females. The majority (90.4%) of suicide cases were males. A trend for higher rates of suicide was generally noted in the 25−34-year and the 75-year and over age groups. Hanging was the main method used to commit suicide (77.5%).
Conclusions: Age-adjusted rates of suicide indicate no significant changes in Jamaica over the period 2002 to 2010. Continued surveillance of suicide as well as improved recording of the circumstances surrounding suicides are recommended to promote greater understanding of suicides and this will ultimately inform intervention strategies.