Suicide ideation in Chinese adolescents

T Hesketh, Q J Ding, R Jenkins
Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology 2002, 37 (5): 230-5

BACKGROUND: The suicide rate in China is estimated to be around three times the global average, with women in the 15- to 24-year-old age group particularly vulnerable. Despite this, there is a dearth of information on the prevalence and predictors of depression and suicide ideation in Chinese adolescents. The specific aims of the study were, therefore, to quantify the rates and severity of self-reported depression and suicide ideation in middle-school students, to examine the relationship between depression and attempted suicide, and to identify socio-demographic associations.

METHODS: A cross-sectional survey using self-completion questionnaires was carried out in six middle schools (predominant age range 13-17 years) in an urban and a rural setting in Zhejiang Province in eastern China.

RESULTS: There were 1,576 completed questionnaires. One-third of the students had suffered symptoms of severe depression, with 16 % admitting to suicide ideation and 9 % to actually having attempted suicide. Factors independently associated with severe depression were female gender, poor self-reported academic performance and rural residence. Similar factors were associated with suicide ideation and attempted suicide. Depression was less common in those without siblings. Patterns of help-seeking showed reliance on friends and parents, with very low levels of professional help-seeking (around 1 %) and 30 % having sought no help from any source for psychological problems.

CONCLUSION: The results of the study contributed to service developments and the addition of psychological issues to the school health education curriculum.

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