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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Suicide among adults aged 30–49: A psychological autopsy study in Hong Kong

Paul WC Wong1, Wincy SC Chan12, Eric YH Chen13, Sandra SM Chan4, YW Law1 and Paul SF Yip15*

  • * Corresponding author: Paul SF Yip sfpyip@hku.hk

  • † Equal contributors

Author Affiliations

1 Hong Kong Jockey Club Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention, University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR, P.R. China

2 Centre for the Advancement of University Teaching, University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR, P.R. China

3 Department of Psychiatry, University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR, P.R. China

4 Department of Psychiatry, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, Hong Kong SAR, P.R. China

5 Department of Social Work and Social Administration, University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR, P.R. China

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BMC Public Health 2008, 8:147  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-8-147

Published: 1 May 2008

Abstract

Background

A surge in suicide rates in middle age people in Hong Kong and many Asian countries was recently observed. However, there is a paucity of suicide research on this subgroup of people in Asia.

Methods

The next-of-kin of 85 suicide cases and 85 community subjects aged 30–49 years were interviewed by a psychological autopsy approach. Information was triangulated by interview notes, coroner's court files, and police investigation reports.

Results

A multiple logistic regression analysis identified the following risk factors for suicide among the middle age people in Hong Kong: the presence of at least one psychiatric disorder (OR = 37.5, 95% CI 11.5–121.9, p < 0.001), indebtedness (OR = 9.4, 95% CI 2.2–40.8, p < 0.01), unemployment (OR = 4.8, 95% CI 1.3–17.5, p < 0.05), never married (OR = 4.2, 95% CI 1.1–16.3, p < 0.05), and lived alone (OR = 3.9, 95% CI 1.2–13.4, p < 0.05).

Conclusion

The data show that socio-economical factors had a strong impact on suicide in the target group. Further research is needed to explore any positive qualities that protect the middle-aged from suicide. The prevention of suicide in the middle-aged requires multiple strategies.