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Charcoal-burning, a new suicide method, emerged in Hong Kong during the latest economic recession. With-in 2 months charcoal-burning had become the third most common suicide method.
To examine the characteristics of suicides by charcoal-burning, and to delineate the pathways linking macro-level economic and social changes with the subjective experiences of those surviving a charcoal-burning suicide attempt.
Both quantitative and qualitative methods were used. In the coroner's records study, the first 160 cases of suicide by charcoal-burning were compared with a control group. In the ethnographic enquiry, we interviewed 25 consecutive informants who had survived serious suicide attempt using charcoal-burning.
People who completed suicide by the charcoal-burning method were more likely to have been economically active and physically healthy, and were less likely to have had pre-existing mental illness. Charcoal-burning suicide was associated with overindebtedness. Media reports were pivotal in linking overindebtedness and financial troubles with charcoal-burning.
The political economy of suicide by charcoal-burning illustrated how historical, socio-economic and cultural forces shaped the lived experience that preceded suicide.
We evaluated the utility of the Chinese version of the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) and measured the prevalence of major depression six weeks after confinement among Chinese women in Hong Kong.
A prospective cohort of 145 women completed the EPDS, the 12-item General Health Questionnaire (GHQ) and the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) six weeks after giving birth. They were then assessed with the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM–III–R, non-patient version (SCID–NP) to establish psychiatric diagnosis. The criterion validity of EPDS was tested against this clinical diagnosis, and the concurrent validity against the GHQ and BDI scores was also evaluated. The internal consistency of the scales was measured by Cronbach's α coefficient.
The Chinese EPDS had satisfactory psychometric properties and a cut-off score of 9/10 is recommended for screening depressive illness in a general postnatal population. At six weeks postpartum, 5.5% of the study population suffered from major depression.
The Chinese EPDS will be useful for screening for postnatal depression.