Urban Green Spaces and Suicide Mortality in Belgium (2001-2011): A Census-Based Longitudinal Study
26 Pages Posted: 2 Jun 2022
BackgroundExposure to green spaces is associated with improved mental health and may reduce risk of suicide. Here, we investigate the association between long-term exposure to residential surrounding greenness and suicide mortality.MethodsWe used data from the 2001 Belgian census linked to mortality register data (2001-2011). We included all registered individuals aged 18 years or older at baseline (2001) residing in the five largest urban areas in Belgium (n=3,549,514). Suicide mortality was defined using the tenth revision of the World Health Organisation International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10) codes; X60-X84, Y10-Y34, and Y870. Surrounding greenness was measured using the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) within a 300m and 1,000m buffer around the residential address at baseline. To assess the association between residential surrounding greenness and suicide mortality, we applied Cox proportional hazards models with age as the underlying time scale. Models were adjusted for age, sex, living arrangement, migrant background, educational attainment, neighbourhood socio-economic position. We additionally explored potential mediation by residential outdoor nitrogen dioxide (NO 2 ) concentrations. Associations are expressed as hazard ratios (HR) and their 95% confidence intervals (CI) for an interquartile range (IQR) increase in residential surrounding greenness.ResultsWe observed a 7% (95%CI 0.89-0.97) and 6% (95%CI 0.90-0.98) risk reduction of suicide mortality for an IQR increase in residential surrounding greenness for buffers of 300m and 1,000m, respectively. Furthermore, this association was independent of exposure to NO 2 . After stratification, the inverse association was only apparent among women, and residents of Belgian origin, and that it was stronger among residents aged 36 or older, those with high level of education, and residents of most deprived neighbourhoods.ConclusionOur results suggest that urban green spaces may protect against suicide mortality, but this beneficial effect may not be equally distributed across all strata of the population.
Keywords: Suicide mortality, Greenspace, surrounding greenness, urban health, longitudinal study
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