Background. There are few cross-national comparisons of
the rates of suicide ideation and attempts
across diverse countries. Nine independently conducted epidemiological
surveys using similar
diagnostic assessment and criteria provided an opportunity to obtain that
Methods. Suicide ideation and attempts were assessed on the
Diagnostic Interview Schedule in over
40000 subjects drawn from the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, France,
Lebanon, Taiwan, Korea and New Zealand.
Results. The lifetime prevalence rates/100 for suicide
ideation ranged from 2·09 (Beirut) to 18·51
(Christchurch, New Zealand). Lifetime prevalence rates/100 for suicide
attempts ranged from 0·72
(Beirut) to 5·93 (Puerto Rico). Females as compared to males had
only marginally higher rates of
suicidal ideation in most countries, reaching a two-fold increase in Taiwan.
Females as compared
to males had more consistently higher rates for suicide attempts, reaching
a two- to three-fold
increase in most countries. Suicide ideation and attempts in most countries
were associated with
being currently divorced/separated as compared to currently married.
Conclusions. While the rates of suicide ideation varied widely
by country, the rates of suicide
attempts were more consistent across most countries. The variations were
only partly explained by
variation in rates of psychiatric disorders, divorce or separation among
countries and are probably
due to cultural features that we do not, as yet, understand.