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Socio-economic and psychological correlates of suicidality among Hong Kong working-age adults: results from a population-based survey

  • KA Y. LIU (a1) (a2), ERIC Y. H. CHEN (a1) (a3), CECILIA L. W. CHAN (a1) (a4), DOMINIC T. S. LEE (a1) (a5), Y. W. LAW (a1), YEATES CONWELL (a6) and PAUL S. F. YIP (a1) (a7)...


Background. The global toll of suicide is estimated to be one million lives per year, which exceeded the number of deaths by homicide and war combined. A key step to suicide prevention is to prevent less serious suicidal behaviour to preclude more lethal outcomes. Although 61% of the world's suicides take place in Asia and the suicide rates among middle age groups have been increasing since the economic crisis in many Asian countries, population-based studies of suicidal behaviour among working-age adults in non-western communities are scarce.

Method. Data from a population-based survey with 2015 participants were used to estimate the prevalence of suicidal ideation and behaviour among the working-age population in Hong Kong, and to study the associated socio-economic and psychological correlates. We focused particularly on potential modulating factors between life-event-related factors and suicidal ideation.

Results. Six per cent of the Hong Kong population aged 20–59 years considered suicide in the past year, while 1·4% attempted suicide. Hopelessness, reasons for living, and reluctance to seek help from family and friends had direct association with past-year suicidal ideation. Reasons for living were found to moderate the effect of perceived stress on suicidal ideation.

Conclusions. Suicidality is a multi-faceted problem that calls for a multi-sectored, multi-layered approach to prevention. Prevention programmes can work on modulating factors such as reasons for living to reduce suicidal risk in working-age adults.


Corresponding author

HKJC Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong. (Email:


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