Trends and Spatial Patterns of Suicide Among Adolescent in Ecuador, 1997-2016

Solange Núñez-González*, A. Gabriela Lara-Vinueza, Christopher Gault, J. Andrés Delgado-Ron
Centro de Investigación en Salud Pública y Epidemiología Clínica (CISPEC), Universidad Tecnológica Equinoccial, Quito, 170129, Ecuador

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Creative Commons License
© 2018 Núñez-González et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Centro de Investigación en Salud Pública y Epidemiología Clínica (CISPEC), Universidad Tecnológica Equinoccial, Quito, 170129, Ecuador; Tel: +593-2990800 ext. 2164; E-mail:;



Suicide is a global public health problem, ranking among the top 20 leading causes of mortality.


The aim of the present study is two-fold. Firstly, it describes the temporal trends of suicide in adolescents from 1997 to 2016 in Ecuador, allowing us to identify critical periods. Secondly, it analyzes the spatiotemporal clusters of high mortality rates and the spatial distribution due to suicide in the country, from 2011 to 2016.


This is an ecological study; we included all death certificates of suicide among adolescents in the 10 - 19 age groups both sex, from the National Institute of Statistics and Census (INEC) database in Ecuador from 1997 to 2016. In order to assess the trend of suicide rates, we obtained Annual Percentage Changes (APCs) and average Annual Percent Changes (AAPCs) through Joinpoint regression analysis. Space-time scan statistics were used to identify high-risk clusters, and the spatial autocorrelation was evaluated through global Moran index.


Suicides at a national level increased from 165 deaths in 1997 to 286 deaths in 2016; rates increased from 12.7 to 23.3 per 100,000 population along with a significant increase of the trend at the national level (AAPC=3.7%; 95% CI: 2.1 to 5.2). We identified two significant spatial clusters for a high occurrence of suicide: the primary most likely cluster included 83 cantons (Risk Relative=2.28) while the second most likely cluster included 20 cantons (Risk Relative=1.74). The Global Moran I index for the study period showed a positive spatial autocorrelation (0.27; p = 0.001).


Suicide rates in adolescents significantly increased over the 20-year study period; the spatial analysis indicates the presence of high occurrence clusters in the Amazon and Southern Highlands regions of the country. This growing phenomenon may be a reflection of the lack of policies and strategies focused on the adolescent’s mental health at a national level, added to factors such as family dysfunction, school failure, vulnerable ethnic groups, and immigration patterns.

Keywords: Suicide, Adolescent, Mortality, Trends, Spatial Regression, Ecuador (source: MeSH NLM), Spatial.