A Markov chain model for studying suicide dynamics: An illustration of the Rose theorem

  • Yip P
  • So B
  • Kawachi I
 et al. 
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BACKGROUND: High-risk strategies would only have a modest effect on suicide prevention within a population. It is best to incorporate both high-risk and population-based strategies to prevent suicide. This study aims to compare the effectiveness of suicide prevention between high-risk and population-based strategies.

METHODS: A Markov chain illness and death model is proposed to determine suicide dynamic in a population and examine its effectiveness for reducing the number of suicides by modifying certain parameters of the model. Assuming a population with replacement, the suicide risk of the population was estimated by determining the final state of the Markov model.

RESULTS: The model shows that targeting the whole population for suicide prevention is more effective than reducing risk in the high-risk tail of the distribution of psychological distress (i.e. the mentally ill).

CONCLUSIONS: The results of this model reinforce the essence of the Rose theorem that lowering the suicidal risk in the population at large may be more effective than reducing the high risk in a small population.

Author-supplied keywords

  • An illness and death model
  • Markov chain model
  • Rose theorem
  • Suicide

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  • Paul Siu Fai Yip

  • Bing Kwan So

  • Ichiro Kawachi

  • Yi Zhang

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