Suicidality and correlates among rural adolescents of China

Xianchen Liu, Jenn-Yun Tein, Zhongtang Zhao, Irwin N Sandler
Journal of Adolescent Health 2005, 37 (6): 443-51

PURPOSE: Despite high rates of suicide in rural youths of China, little is known about the epidemiological characteristics of suicidal behaviors among this group of population. This study examined the prevalence and correlates of suicidality among Chinese adolescents.

METHODS: An epidemiological survey was conducted in a sample of 1,362 adolescents from 5 high schools in a prefecture of Shandong, China. We obtained data using a structured questionnaire asking about suicidal behaviors, life stress, locus of control, depression, aggression, and individual and family characteristics. Data were analyzed using logistic regression models.

RESULTS: Overall, 19% of the sample reported having suicidal ideation, and 7% reported having made a suicide attempt during the past 6 months. The prevalence rates of suicidal behaviors significantly increased over age. Female adolescents were more likely to report suicidal ideation than males, and older females (ages 16-18) were more likely to report suicide attempts than older males. Multivariate logistic regression models showed that female gender, older age, boarding in school, life stress, depression, and external locus of control were significantly associated with increased risk for suicidal ideation, while older age, life stress, external locus of control, poor academic performance, depression, and aggression were related to suicide attempts.

CONCLUSIONS: Suicidal behaviors are common problems in rural adolescents of China. Female adolescents are particularly prone to report suicidal ideation and suicide attempts as they age. Multiple psychosocial factors are associated with suicidal behaviors, and psychopathology and life stress may play major roles in suicidal behaviors among rural adolescents of China.

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