Risk behaviors, suicidal ideation and suicide attempts in a nationally representative French sample

Mathilde M Husky, Romain Guignard, François Beck, Grégory Michel
Journal of Affective Disorders 2013, 151 (3): 1059-65

BACKGROUND: Data from large nationally representative samples are needed to provide the empirical foundation to inform health policies for the prevention of suicide risk and risk behaviors in men and women.

METHODS: Data were extracted from the 2010 Health Barometer, a large telephone survey on a representative sample of the general population aged 15-85 years living in France (n=27,653), carried out by the National Institute for Health Promotion and Health Education. Data were collected between October 2009 and July 2010. A computer-assisted telephone interview (CATI) system was used.

RESULTS: Overall, 3.9% of respondents aged 15 to 85 reported past year suicidal ideation, and 0.5% reported a suicide attempt in that time period. Increased rates of risky sexual behavior are associated with ideation and attempt in both men and women, after controlling for sociodemographic variables. Homosexuality or bisexuality are associated with suicidal ideation for both men and women, but not with attempts. Substance misuse, physical and sexual assaults are strongly associated with suicidal symptoms for both men and women. Early first experiences with sex, tobacco, and alcohol are associated with suicidal symptoms though somewhat differentially for men and women.

LIMITATIONS: Cross-sectional survey.

CONCLUSION: The findings underscore associations between suicidal thoughts and behaviors and risk behaviors such as unprotected sex and substance use in men and women throughout the lifespan. These associations highlight the need for preventive strategies such as screening for risk behaviors in order to identify men and women particularly at risk for suicidal behavior.


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