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Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2008 Feb;10(1):80-6.

Suicide in China: unique demographic patterns and relationship to depressive disorder.

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Department of Psychiatry, St. Michael's Hospital, University of Toronto, #17029, 30 Bond Street, Cardinal Carter Wing, Toronto, Ontario M5B 1W8, Canada.


Recent research on suicide in China reveals several unique findings: 1) female suicides outnumber male suicides by a 3:1 ratio; 2) rural suicides outnumber urban suicides by a 3:1 ratio; 3) a large upsurge of young adult and older adult suicides has occurred; 4) a comparatively high national suicide rate two to three times the global average is evident; and, most startlingly, 5) a low rate of psychiatric illness, particularly depression, exists in suicide victims. The strongest empirical data suggest that these trends result from a high number of rural, young females who experience acute interpersonal or financial crises and then impulsively attempt suicide using lethal pesticides or poisons. Other suicide risk factors in China are similar to those that are well known internationally. Interactive sociological, cultural, and economic hypotheses unique to China provide further insight. Among those, the cultural-socioeconomic disadvantages of the Chinese rural female and cultural attitudes toward suicide are particularly noteworthy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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