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Suicide Means Used by Chinese Rural Youths: A Comparison Between Those With and Without Mental Disorders

Zhang, Jie PhD*†; Li, Ziyao MPH*‡

The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease: June 2011 - Volume 199 - Issue 6 - p 410-415
doi: 10.1097/NMD.0b013e31821d3ac7
Original Articles

Reports on Chinese rural youth suicide indicated patterns different from those of the West. Only about 30% to 70% young victims had had diagnoses of psychiatric illnesses (Phillips et al., Lancet 359:835-840, 2002; Xiao et al., Chin J Psychiatry 36:129-131, 2003), and more than 60% of them used pesticides as suicide means (Wang et al., Lancet 372:1765-1773, 2008). To prevent suicides in rural China, it is important to know the choice of means by Chinese young suicide victims with and without mental disorders. Data on suicide cases in China's rural areas gathered from a big psychological autopsy study were studied for demographic characteristics, suicide methods, and the presence of mental disorders. The findings in the suicide victims with and without mental disorders showed significant differences in suicide method selecting. Victims with mental disorders tended to select violent methods compared with those without mental disorders (31.4% vs. 16.2%). Hanging is method more likely chosen by the mentally disordered victims (13.3%) than those without a mental disorder (7.8%). Mental status affects the means choice among the Chinese rural young suicide victims. Among them, the female victims without mental disorders tended to act on impulsivity and used nonviolent means such as pesticide consumption for suicide. This study informs suicide prevention measures in both China and rest of the world.

*Shandong University Center for Suicide Prevention Research, Shandong, China; †Department of Sociology, State University of New York College at Buffalo, Buffalo, New York; and ‡Shandong Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Shandong, China.

This research was supported by the United States National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Grant R01 MH68560.

Send reprint requests to Jie Zhang, PhD, Department of Sociology, State University of New York College at Buffalo, 1300 Elmwood Avenue, Buffalo, NY 14222. E-mail:

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.