The Disease Burden of Suicide: Conceptual Challenges and Measurement Standards

  • C. A. Claassen
  • R. M. Bossarte
  • S. M. Stewart
  • E. Guzman
  • P. S. F. Yip
Reference work entry


Suicide was among the first public health issues to be studied at a population level, and the field has a research tradition that now spans 110 years. Yet, despite 8 decades of research documenting their inherent error, suicide rates remain the most widely used population-based suicide metric today. Health expectancy and   health gap measures have begun to replace disease rates in population health studies, but a number of conceptual and methodological challenges still need to be addressed when adapting these new tools to suicide research. A prerequisite to the use of any suicide measure is the need to define clearly what is being measured. The International Classification of Disease Manuals categorize suicidal acts as one type of injury event, suggesting that, like other injuries, these events are most often singular, largely unpredictable events. However, suicidal behavior is often preceded by functional decline and often follows a chronic, recurrent course – bearing more resemblance to a disease process than to an injury event. Next, both case definitions and procedures to correct for the error inherent in suicide data vary widely, highlighting the need to establish measurement standards. Because any burden study is only as valid as the disease concepts and measurement approaches upon which it is based, refinement of methodology will be necessary in order to achieve maximal benefit when applying the newer population summary statistics to suicide.


Suicidal Behavior Quality Adjust Life Year Disability Weight Injury Condition Injury Event 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

List of Abbreviations:


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease


Disability-Adjusted Life Years


Department of Health and Human Services


Disease Modeling software program


External Cause of Injury Codes from the ICD Manuals (see below)


Emergency Department


Global Burden of Disease


Gross Domestic Product


Global Burden of Disease Study for 1990


Global Burden of Disease Study for 2000


Global Burden of Disease Study for 2002


Global Burden of Disease Study for 2005


Human Immunodeficiency Virus/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome


International Classification of Disease Manual


International Classification of Disease Manual, 9th Version


International Classification of Disease Manual, 10th Version


International Collaborative Effort for Injury Statistics


Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Review


National Electronic Injury Surveillance System – All Injury Program


National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey


Quality-Adjusted Life Years


United States


World Health Organization


Years of Life Lived with Disability


Years of Life Lost


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. A. Claassen
  • R. M. Bossarte
  • S. M. Stewart
  • E. Guzman
  • P. S. F. Yip
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Suicide research and PreventionThe University of Hong KongHong KongChina

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