Birthdays are associated with an increased risk of suicide in Japan: Evidence from 27,007 deaths in Tokyo in 2001-2010

Andrew Stickley, Chris Fook Sheng Ng, Yosuke Inoue, Aki Yazawa, Ai Koyanagi, Manami Kodaka, Jordan E. Devylder, Chiho Watanabe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background Previous research has produced conflicting findings concerning whether birthdays are associated with an increased risk of suicide. This study examined the association in Tokyo, Japan. Methods Suicide data (ICD-10 codes X60-X84) for the period 2001-2010 were obtained from the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare. A time-stratified case-crossover design was used with conditional logistic regression analysis being performed to estimate within-subject 'birthday exposures' while controlling for meteorological conditions and public holidays. Results There were 27,007 suicides in the study period. For males the 5 days before the birthday and the week after the birthday were associated with significantly higher odds for suicide with the odds ratio being highest on the actual birthday (OR =1.677, 95% CI: 1.294, 2.172). For females, significantly higher odds for completed suicide were observed 7-11 days before the birthday. Stratified analyses showed different at risk time patterns among men from different age groups, and that married men had higher odds for suicide on, and for the 4 days before and in the 2 weeks after their birthday. Limitations We lacked detailed information on suicides which would have enabled a better understanding of the observed associations. Conclusions Birthdays are associated with an increased risk for suicide in Tokyo, Japan. Health professionals who work with individuals at risk of suicide should be made aware that birthdays are associated with an elevated suicide risk. This information should also be communicated in wider suicide prevention campaigns.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)259-265
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
StatePublished - Aug 1 2016


  • Birthday
  • Japan
  • Suicide
  • Suicide prevention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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