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Br J Psychiatry. 2004 Dec;185:486-93.

Socio-economic differentials in mental disorders and suicide attempts in Australia.

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  • 1School of Public Health, Edward Ford Building, A27, University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia.



Responses to mental disorders usually focus on treatment; socio-economic conditions are less likely to be considered.


To examine social determinants of mental disorders and attempted suicide in Australia.


Data from the 1997 Australian National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing (n=10 641) were used to estimate associations between socio-economic status, mental disorders and attempted suicide. Logistic regression was used to adjust for age, urban/rural residence and country of birth. Socio-economic status differentials in suicide attempts were also adjusted for mental disorders.


Significant increasing gradients from high to low levels of education and occupational status (employed) were evident for affective disorders and anxiety disorders in both men and women and for substance use disorders in men. Similar gradients were found for suicide attempts, which decreased after adjusting for mental disorders, but remained significant in the working-age employed.


These findings suggest social causation of mental disorders and suicide attempts, and the need for social and economic responses beyond provision of mental health services.

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