Lifetime prevalence of suicide ideation, plan, and attempt in metropolitan China


Sing Lee, Hong Kong Mood Disorders Center, 7A, Block E, Staff Quarters, Prince of Wales Hospital, Shatin, Hong Kong, China.


Objective:  This is the first community-based epidemiological study examining the prevalence of suicidal behaviors, their transitional pathways, and their relationship with mental disorders in metropolitan China.

Method:  Suicidal behaviors, including ideation, plans, and attempts were assessed by face-to-face household interviews among 5201 respondents in Beijing and Shanghai in 2001–2002. Lifetime prevalence and risk factors were examined using multivariate discrete-time survival models.

Results:  The lifetime prevalence estimates of suicidal ideation, plans, and attempts were 3.1%, 0.9%, and 1.0% respectively. Among suicide ideators, the conditional probability of ever making a plan and an attempt was 29.5% and 32.3% respectively. Progression from ideation to plan and attempt was the highest during the first year after onset. Suicide attempt was predicted by young adulthood, being unmarried, recent onset of ideation and plan, and the presence of mental disorders, especially mood disorder.

Conclusion:  Suicidal behaviors in metropolitan China exhibit a low prevalence and an epidemiological profile resembling that found in Western countries.