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Prevalence of suicide attempt in individuals with major depressive disorder: a meta-analysis of observational surveys

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 September 2018

Min Dong
Unit of Psychiatry, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Macau, Macao SAR, China
Liang-Nan Zeng
Department of Neurosurgery, The Affiliated Hospital of Southwest Medical University, Luzhou, China
Li Lu
Unit of Psychiatry, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Macau, Macao SAR, China
Xiao-Hong Li
The National Clinical Research Center for Mental Disorders, China & Center of Depression, Beijing Institute for Brain Disorders & Mood Disorders Center, Beijing Anding Hospital, Capital Medical University, Beijing, China
Gabor S. Ungvari
University of Notre Dame Australia/Marian Centre, Perth, Australia
Chee H. Ng
Department of Psychiatry, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Ines H. I. Chow
Unit of Psychiatry, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Macau, Macao SAR, China
Ling Zhang
Department of Epidemiology and Health Statistics, School of Public Health, Capital Medical University & Beijing Municipal Key Laboratory of Clinical Epidemiology, Beijing, China
Yuan Zhou
CAS Key Laboratory of Behavioral Science & Magnetic Resonance Imaging Research Center, Institute of Psychology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
Yu-Tao Xiang*
Unit of Psychiatry, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Macau, Macao SAR, China
Author for correspondence: Yu-Tao Xiang, E-mail:



Suicide attempt (SA), which is one of the strongest predictors of completed suicide, is common in major depressive disorder (MDD) but its prevalence across epidemiological studies has been mixed. The aim of this comprehensive meta-analysis was to examine the pooled prevalence of SA in individuals with MDD.


A systematic literature search was conducted in PubMed, Embase, PsycINFO, Web of Science and Cochrane Library from their commencement date until 27 December 2017. Original studies containing data on prevalence of SA in individuals with MDD were analyzed.


In all, 65 studies with a total of 27 340 individuals with MDD were included. Using the random effects model, the pooled lifetime prevalence of SA was 31% [95% confidence interval (CI) 27–34%], 1-year prevalence was 8% (95% CI 3–14%) and 1-month prevalence was 24% (95% CI 15–34%). Subgroup analyses revealed that the lifetime prevalence of SA was significantly associated with the patient setting, study region and income level, while the 1-month prevalence of SA was associated with only the patient setting.


This meta-analysis confirmed that SA was common in individuals with MDD across the world. Careful screening and appropriate interventions should be implemented for SA in the MDD population.

Original Articles
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2018 

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These authors contributed equally to this work.


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