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Open Access Open Badges Research article

Suicide with psychiatric diagnosis and without utilization of psychiatric service

Yik-wa Law12*, Paul WC Wong12 and Paul SF Yip12

  • * Corresponding author: Yik-wa Law

  • † Equal contributors

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Social Work and Social Administration, The University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR, China

2 HKJC Centre for Suicide Research & Prevention, The University of Hong Kong, 3B, No. 2 University Drive, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR, China

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BMC Public Health 2010, 10:431  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-10-431

Published: 22 July 2010



Considerable attention has been focused on the study of suicides among those who have received help from healthcare providers. However, little is known about the profiles of suicide deceased who had psychiatric illnesses but made no contact with psychiatric services prior to their death. Behavioural model of health service use is applied to identify factors associated with the utilization of psychiatric service among the suicide deceased.


With respect to completed suicide cases, who were diagnosed with a mental disorder, a comparison study was made between those who had (contact group; n = 52; 43.7%) and those who had not made any contact (non-contact group; n = 67; 56.3%) with a psychiatrist during the final six months prior to death. A sample of 119 deceased cases aged between 15 and 59 with at least one psychiatric diagnosis assessed by the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV-TR (SCID I) were selected from a psychological autopsy study in Hong Kong.


The contact and non-contact group could be well distinguished from each other by "predisposing" variables: age group & gender, and most of the "enabling", and "need" variables tested in this study. Multiple logistic regression analysis has found four factors are statistically significantly associated with non-contact suicide deceased: (i) having non-psychotic disorders (OR = 13.5, 95% CI:2.9-62.9), (ii) unmanageable debts (OR = 10.5, CI:2.4-45.3), (iii) being full/partially/self employed at the time of death (OR = 10.0, CI:1.6-64.1) and (iv) having higher levels of social problem-solving ability (SPSI) (OR = 2.0, CI:1.1-3.6).


The non-contact group was clearly different from the contact group and actually comprised a larger proportion of the suicide population that they could hardly be reached by usual individual-based suicide prevention efforts. For this reason, both universal and strategic suicide prevention measures need to be developed specifically in non-medical settings to reach out to this non-contact group in order to achieve better suicide prevention results.