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.