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Journal Article


Hutchinson G. West Indian Med. J. 2005; 54(5): 319-324.


Psychiatry Unit, Department of Clinical Medical Sciences, The University of the West Indies, Champs Fleurs, Trinidad and Tobago.


(Copyright © 2005, University of The West Indies)






Self destructive behaviour may not occur consistently across a population. Identification of variations in homicidal and suicidal behaviour within a country can enable specific prevention and public health strategies to be adopted. This is significant because morbidity and mortality associated with these behaviour patterns is preventable and the affected population is increasingly young adults with potentially productive lives. The author sought to identify some of the associated risk factors with the behaviours in Trinidad and Tobago, a developing island-state in the English-speaking Caribbean, by disaggregating the homicide and suicide data available from Police records for distinct geographical regions. Spearman rank correlation was used to determine whether any of the variations observed could be attributed to social or demographic factors. Homicide and suicide were inversely related in many areas of the country. They were both low in Tobago. Homicide was positively associatedwith high population density, low marriage rates, African ethnicity and showed a trend toward association with school drop-out rates. For suicide, low population density, low income, East Indian ethnicity and alcohol consumption were significantly correlated. These findings underline the benefit of disaggregating national data and suggest specific interventions to diminish the occurrence of these harmful behaviour patterns in Trinidad and Tobago with possible extension to other similar developing countries.


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