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SEASONALITY OF SUICIDE IN EASTERN EUROPE: A REJOINDER TO LESTER AND MOKSONY 1

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SEASONALITY OF SUICIDE IN EASTERN EUROPE: A REJOINDER TO LESTER AND MOKSONY 1
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  See discussions, stats, and author profiles for this publication at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/8267835 Seasonality of suicide in Eastern Europe: Arejoinder to Lester and Moksony   Article   in  Perceptual and Motor Skills · September 2004 DOI: 10.2466/PMS.99.5.17-18 · Source: PubMed CITATIONS 15 READS 17 4 authors , including: Some of the authors of this publication are also working on these related projects: Psychology of Gossip   View projectPaul S F YipThe University of Hong Kong 494   PUBLICATIONS   15,124   CITATIONS   SEE PROFILE Maryanne FisherSaint Mary's University 123   PUBLICATIONS   1,562   CITATIONS   SEE PROFILE All content following this page was uploaded by Paul S F Yip on 19 January 2017. The user has requested enhancement of the downloaded file. All in-text references underlined in blue are added to the srcinal documentand are linked to publications on ResearchGate, letting you access and read them immediately.  Perceptual and Motor Skills, 2004,99, 17-18. Perceptual and Motor Skills 2004 SEASONALITY OF SUICIDE IN EASTERN EUROPE: A REJOINDER TO LESTER AND MOKSONY ' MARTIN VORACEK MARYANNE L. FISHER University ofVienna York University, Toronto PAUL S. F YIP TAMAS ZONDA The University of Hong Kong Jahn Hospital, Budapest Summaq.-Seasonality of suicide in Hungary decreased from the 1980s to the 1990s, supporting the 2003 conclusion of Lester and Moksony. However, it was the strongest ever to be documented with contemporary suicide data, supporting the con- jecture of Voracek, et al. (2002) that seasonality of suicide remains high in Eastern Europe. A new hypothesis regarding the co-occurrence of high incidence and strong seasonality of suicide is presented. Voracek, Vintill, Fisher, and Yip (2002) reported that seasonality of suicide by hanging in Timi2 county, a westerly Romanian area with a noticeable Hungarian minority, had not de- creased from 1980-1989, the last decade of the Communist regime, to the transitional period of 1990-1999. In this study, harmonic analysis was used to partition the total variance of the time-series data into seasonal, nonseasonal, and random variance components (Pocock, 1974; Bloom- field, 1976). It was conjectured that seasonality of suicide remains high in Eastern Europe. Sea- sonality and seasonal harmonics refer to periodic movements within time-series data which have a cyclical basis. Commenting on Voracek, et al. (2002), Lester and Moksony (2003) reported a decrease in seasonality of suicide in Hungary from the 1980s to the 1990s. This conclusion was based on x analysis and a descriptive comparison (1980s vs 1990s) of the peak-to-trough difference in aggregated monthly percentages of suicides. Here we show, by appropriate reanalysis, that the conclusion of Lester and Moksony (2003), although correct, was reached by data-analytic meth- ods that are insensitive to seasonality, and thus, the conjecture of Voracek, et al. (2002) is still supported. This Rejoinder presents data on suicides in Hungary 1980-1999 (N=83,338), as gleaned from the Hungarian Central Statistical Office (KSH) yearbooks. ll analyses were con- ducted using the SAS (v8.02) software. Harmonic analysis of monthly suicide numbers, adjusted for calendar effects, indicated that for 1980-1989, 83 of the variance was explained by seasonal harmonics, 7 by nonseasonal harmonics, and 10 by random variation. Corresponding figures for 1990-1999 were, in order, 73 , 12 , and 15 . For both periods, the variance accounted for by seasonal harmonics was statistically significant ps< .001; for test details, see Yip, Chao, Ho, 1998), whereas the vari- ance accounted for by nonseasonal harmonics and random variation was not. The decrease in seasonality, although statistically reliable (p < .05), seems not practically important, since the sea- sonality stiU remains very strong in comparison to those of other countries. Within the seasonal harmonics, the one-cycle component's explanatory power even increased, relative to higher-or- der cycles (1980s: 90 vs 1990s: 98 ). 'Address enquiries to Martin Voracek, Department of Psychology, Division of Research Meth- ods and Differential Psychology, University of Vienna, Liebiggasse 50 A-1010 Vienna, Austria or e-mail (martin.voracek@univie.ac.at).  18 M. VORACEK, ET AL. Lester and Moksony (2003) used no statistical procedure to detect seasonality (cyclical pat- terns) in time-series data, and instead they examined overall unevenness. Relatedly, the presen- tation of aggregate monthly percentages and their corresponding peak-to-trough differences for suicide incidence also have no direct bearing on periods and amplitudes of seasonal rhythms embedded in the sequence of time-series data (for discussion, see Hakko, Rasanen, Tiihonen, Nieminen, 2002). The exceptionally pronounced seasonality of suicide in Hungary during the 1980s and 1990s is the strongest ever to be documented with contemporary data, exceeding the 66% fig- ure for Japan, 1982-1996, reported by Sato (2001). Due to shared genetic risk factors (Vora- cek, Fisher, MaruSi?, 2003), high incidence of suicide coupled with strong seasonality of sui- cide may be particularly noteworthy in geographical areas inhabited by the descendants of ancestral populations adapted to cold climates, such as the Japanese, Inuit, Siberian, Samoyed, Uralic, Finnish, Lappish, Baltic, and Hungarian people (Oppenheimer, 2003). This new conjec- ture remains to be tested. Importantly, the decrease in seasonality of suicide in Hungary occur- red concomitantly with a decrease in suicide rate (Rihmer, Appleby, Rihmer, Belso, 2000), which we view as evidence supporting the hypothesized positive relation between incidence and seasonality of suicide. REFERENCES BLOOMFIELD, . (1976) Fourier analysis of time series: an introduction. New York: Wiley. HAKKO, H. RASANEN, . TIIHONEN, ., NIEMINEN, . (2002) Use of statistical techniques in studies of suicide seasonality, 1970 to 1997. Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior 32, 191-208. LESTER, D. MOKSONY, . (2003) Seasonality of suicide in Eastern Europe: a comment on Evidence for lack of change in seasonality of suicide from Timi? county, Romania. Per- ceptual and Motor Skills 96, 421-422. OPPENHEIMER, . (2003) Out of Eden: the peopling of the world. London: Constable. POCOCK, . J. (1,974) Harmonic analysis applied to seasonal variations in sickness absence. Ap- plied Stattsttcs 23, 103- 120. RIHMER, ., APPLEBY, ., RIHMER, ., BELSO, N. (2000) Decreasing suicide in Hungary. Brit- ish Journal of Psychiatry 177, 84. [Letter] SATO, T. (2001) Seasonality of suicides. British Journal of Psychiatry 178, 183. [Letter] VORACEK, ., FISHER, . L., &MARuSIC, . (2003) The Finno-Ugrian suicide hypothesis: varia- tion in European suicide rates by latitude and longitude. Perceptual and Motor Skills 97, 401-406. VORACEK, ., VINTIL~, ., FISHER, M. L., YIP, P. S. F. (2002) Evidence for lack of change in seasonality of suicide from Timi? county, Romania. Perceptual and Motor Skills 94, 1071- 1078. YIP, l S. F., CHAO, A., &Ho, T. P. (1998) A re-examination of seasonal variation in suicides in Australia and New Zealand. Journal of Affective Disorders 47, 141-150. Accepted May 11 2004. View publication statsView publication stats
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