Open Access Research article

Life time suicidal thoughts in an urban community in Hanoi, Vietnam

Huong Tran Thi Thanh12*, Trung Nam Tran3, Guo-Xin Jiang2, Antoon Leenaars2 and Danuta Wasserman24

Author Affiliations

1 Hanoi Medical University, Hanoi, Vietnam

2 Swedish National and Stockholm County Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention of Mental Ill-Health (NASP) at the National Institute of Psychosocial Medicine and Department of Public Health Sciences, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden

3 Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden

4 Principal investigator

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Public Health 2006, 6:76  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-6-76

Published: 26 March 2006



Suicidal thought is a risk factor and a stage in the suicidal process from planning to attempting and dying by suicide. To date, studies on suicidal thought in the general population, especially in Asian communities, have been limited.


The WHO SUPRE-MISS (the multisite intervention study on suicidal behaviours) community survey questionnaire was filled in for 2,280 randomly selected residents of the DongDa district of Hanoi, Vietnam by means of face-to-face interviews. This multi-factor questionnaire includes such variables as sociodemographic information, suicidal thought and history of suicide attempts, physical health, alcohol consumption and medication.


Prevalence rates for life time suicidal thoughts, suicide plans and suicide attempts were 8.9%, 1.1% and 0.4% respectively. Suicidal thoughts are associated with multiple characteristics, such as female gender, single/widowed/separated/divorced marital status, low income, lifestyle (use of alcohol, sedatives and pain relief medication), but not with low education or employment status. Having no religion and being a Buddhist appear to be protective factors for suicidal thought.

The ratio of suicidal thoughts, suicide plans and suicide attempts on a lifetime basis is 22.3:2.8:1.


In Vietnam, as in Western and other Asian countries, suicidal thoughts are associated with similar negative psychosocial risk factors, lifestyle and emotional problems, which implies that suicide preventive measure developed elsewhere can be adjusted to Vietnamese condition. Understanding the unique and common risks in a culture may assist in prediction and control.