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Suicide in Hong Kong: a case-control psychological autopsy study

  • ERIC Y. H. CHEN (a1), WINCY S. C. CHAN (a1), PAUL W. C. WONG (a1), SANDRA S. M. CHAN (a1), CECILIA L. W. CHAN (a1), Y. W. LAW (a1), PHILIP S. L. BEH (a1), K. K. CHAN (a1), JOANNE W. Y. CHENG (a1), KA Y. LIU (a1) and PAUL S. F. YIP (a1)...


Background. The relative contribution of psychosocial and clinical risk factors to suicide among Chinese populations is an important issue. In Hong Kong, this issue requires vigorous examination in light of a 50% increase in suicide rate between 1997 and 2003.

Method. Using a case-control psychological autopsy method, 150 suicide deceased were compared with 150 living controls matched by age and gender. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with the next-of-kin of the subjects. Data were collected on a wide range of potential risk and protective factors, including demographic, life event, clinical and psychological variables. The relative contribution of these factors towards suicide was examined in a multiple logistic regression model.

Results. Six factors were found to significantly and independently contribute to suicide: unemployment, indebtedness, being single, social support, psychiatric illness, and history of past attempts.

Conclusions. Both psychosocial and clinical factors are important in suicides in Hong Kong. They seem to have mediated suicide risk independently. In addition, socio-economic adversities seem to have played a relatively important role in the increasing suicide rate in Hong Kong.


Corresponding author

Department of Psychiatry and HKJC Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention, 3B, No. 2 University Drive, University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong. (Email:


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