Russian suicide mortality rates changed rapidly over the second half of the twentieth century. This study attempts to differentiate between underlying period and cohort effects in relation to the changes in suicide mortality in Russia between 1956 and 2005.
Sex- and age-specific suicide mortality data were analyzed using an age-period-cohort (APC) approach. Descriptive analyses and APC modeling with log-linear Poisson regression were performed.
Strong period effects were observed for the years during and after Gorbachev’s political reforms (including the anti-alcohol campaign) and for those following the break-up of the Soviet Union. After mutual adjustment, the cohort- and period-specific relative risk estimates for suicide revealed differing underlying processes. While the estimated period effects had an overall positive trend, cohort-specific developments indicated a positive trend for the male cohorts born between 1891 and 1931 and for the female cohorts born between 1891 and 1911, but a negative trend for subsequent cohorts.
Our results indicate that the specific life experiences of cohorts may be important for variations in suicide mortality across time, in addition to more immediate effects of changes in the social environment.