Suicide mortality and political transition: Russians in Estonia compared to the Estonians in Estonia and to the population of Russia

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Värnik, Airi
Kõlves, Kairi
Sisask, Merike
Samm, Algi
Wasserman, Danuta
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2006
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Abstract

Design. Age-adjusted suicide rates were compared for Russians in Estonia, Estonians in Estonia and inhabitants of Russia in radically changed socio-political situations (before and after the dissolution of the USSR). Results. High, but still lower suicide rates for Russians in Estonia were observed in comparison with Estonians during the study period (1983-1990) when Estonia was a part of the Soviet Union (t = 2.22, p = 0.061). During the transition period (1991-1998), after the dissolution of the USSR, when Estonia became independent, a sharp increase in suicide rates was observed for all three populations. However, the Estonian Russians, whose privileged status before 1991 changed during the Estonian independence into that of immigrants, causing stress and demanding high adaptation capacities, had significantly higher suicide mortality rate compared with Estonians (t = -3.99, p = 0.005) as well as in comparison with the population of Russia (t = -2.67, p = 0.032). Conclusions. Migration in terms of change of the geographical location solely seems not to be sufficient determinant provoking suicides until their needs were met with greater attention compared to the local population. For the Russian minority in Estonia suicidality appeared to be provoked by the sharp sociopolitical change that turned Russians from privileged status to immigrant status. By the end of the transition period the suicide curves for all three studied populations converged which can be interpreted as an indicator of the stabilisation in the society.

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10

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3

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