The spatial pattern of suicide in the U.S. in relation to deprivation, fragmentation and rurality.
Analysis of geographical patterns of suicide and psychiatric morbidity has demonstrated the impact of latent ecological variables (such as deprivation, rurality). Such latent variables may be derived by conventional multivariate techniques from sets of observed indices (for example, by principal components), by composite variable methods or by methods which explicitly consider the spatial framework of areas and, in particular, the spatial clustering of latent risks and outcomes. This article considers a latent random variable approach to explaining geographical contrasts in suicide in the US; and it develops a spatial structural equation model incorporating deprivation, social fragmentation and rurality. The approach allows for such latent spatial constructs to be correlated both within and between areas. Potential effects of area ethnic mix are also included. The model is applied to male and female suicide deaths over 2002Ð06 in 3142 US counties.