Twelve-month prevalence and predictors of self-reported suicidal ideation and suicide attempt among Korean adolescents in a web-based nationwide survey

Eun-Ho Kang, Min Kyung Hyun, Seong Mi Choi, Ji-Min Kim, Gyung-Mee Kim, Jong-Min Woo
Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry 2015, 49 (1): 47-53

OBJECTIVE: The suicide rate in South Korea was the highest among the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries in 2011. Although the suicide rate in adolescents is lower than that of adults and is reported to be decreasing in young males in some countries, it has consistently increased in recent years in South Korea. We aimed to determine the prevalence, pattern, and predictors of suicidal ideation and attempt in the past 12 months.

METHODS: A total sample of 72,623 adolescents aged 12-18 years who responded to a web-based anonymous self-reported survey between September and October 2010 was used for the analysis.

RESULTS: The suicidal ideation and suicide attempt rates were 19.1% and 4.9%, respectively. Being female, having a poor perceived socioeconomic status and a poor perceived academic performance, subjective feelings of depression, cigarette smoking, alcohol use, perceived general medical health, and experiences of any involvement with sexual intercourse were the contributing factors that predicted elevated risks for suicidal ideation and suicide attempt. In contrast to previous reports in other countries, the suicide attempt rate in Korean female adolescents peaked at age 13 years, and there were no differences in suicidal ideation in females by age. There were no differences in both suicidal ideation and attempt rates in males by age.

CONCLUSION: A multidisciplinary approach that takes into consideration the characteristics of Korean adolescents with suicidal ideation or suicide attempt is warranted for developing prevention and treatment programs.

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