POLICE ASSOCIATION OF NOVA SCOTIA 63 Widowhood also appears to have a greater effect on the middle-aged; the suicide rate in the widowed aged 40 to 59 years is 2.1 times higher than for the widowed 60 and older. Finally, single people 40 to 59 have double the suicide rates compared to singles of other ages. Previous research has found an association between the break-up of a marriage (or co-habiting relationship) and increased risk of depression, the most common mental health disorder amongst people who commit suicide. Given the relationship between marital breakdown and depression, and the association between depression and suicide, suicide rates were plotted with the divorce rates for the period 1950-2008. The trend lines show a similar pattern (see Chart 8). This finding is consistent with other studies which have found correlations between suicide and divorce in Canada. Chart 8: Divorce and suicide rates, per 100,000, Canada, 1950 to 2008 During the 1950s, divorce and suicide rates were fairly stable, but both began to rise during the 1960s. In 1968, Parliament passed the Divorce Act which established a federal-level divorce law. In the following year the divorce rate increased by 128%, and as Chart 8 shows, suicide rates moved in the same direction. In 1986 the Divorce Act was amended, reducing waiting times from three years of separation to one. This resulted in 1987 having the highest rate of divorce in Canadian history. This increase in divorces was paralleled by an increase in suicide rates. After the 1987 spike in the divorce rate, both divorce and suicide rates have seen a similar decline. Summary Using vital statistics to explore different aspects of suicide in Canada has shown that males are far more likely to commit suicide than females. Looking at suicides by age group for both sexes, the highest suicide rates were found in those aged 40 to 59. However, suicide ranks second as a leading cause of death for people aged 15 to 34. Looking at suicide deaths by marital status revealed significantly lower rates for married people, and there is a compelling parallel between historical trends for suicide and divorce. This finding would benefit from further research. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 82-624-X by Tanya Navaneelan Tanya Navaneelan is an analyst with the Health Statistics Division. The author wishes to acknowledge Shiang Ying Dai, Teresa Janz, Bob Kingsley, Brenda Wannell and Patricia Wood for their contributions. SUICIDE RATES: AN OVERVIEW