JOURNAL ARTICLE

Gender differences in suicidal ideation and health-risk behaviors among high school students in Beijing, China

Yi-Yang Zhang, Yuan-Ting Lei, Yi Song, Ruo-Ran Lu, Jia-Li Duan, Judith J Prochaska
Journal of Global Health 2019, 9 (1): 010604
31217964

Background: Suicide is still the leading cause of death in the 15 to 34-year age group, especially for girls aging 15 to 19-year old. In China particularly, the suicide rate of female is 60% higher than male. The gender difference on suicidal ideation and its patterns with academic, family, social and health-risk factors is unknown among adolescents in Beijing, China.

Methods: A total of 33 635 students in grades 7-12 in Beijing participated in the 2014 Chinese Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance. Data were stratified by gender and associations with suicidal ideation were analyzed using χ2 test and multivariate regression analyses. The interaction effects on suicidal ideation between gender and the related behaviors were also analyzed.

Results: The prevalence of suicidal ideation was significantly higher for girls (13.3%) than boys (10.7%). The multivariate regression analyses indicated that high academic pressure, running away from home, feeling lonely or sad/hopeless, being bullied, fighting, and binge drinking were significantly associated with suicidal ideation in boys and girls. Factors more strongly associated with suicidal ideation in girls than boys were being in junior vs senior high school (girl vs boys: 1.24 vs NA), high academic pressure (2.42 vs 1.55), ever smoking (1.52 vs NA), binge drinking (1.30 vs 1.17), fighting once (1.63 vs 1.06) and being sad/hopeless (2.39 vs 2.04) and their interaction with gender were all statistically significant ( P  < 0.05). A lower likelihood of suicidal ideation was found among boys, but not girls, who had PE class two or more days per week.

Conclusions: Girls showed more vulnerability to suicidal ideation than boys particularly among girls in junior school, reporting high academic pressure, smoking, binge drinking and fighting. The combinations of risk factors and differential patterns for boys and girls point to high-risk groups and potential targets for gender-specific suicide prevention.

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