Lifetime risk of suicide ideation and attempts in an Australian community: prevalence, suicidal process, and help-seeking behaviour

J Affect Disord. 2005 Jun;86(2-3):215-24. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2005.02.001.


Background: The World Health Organisation SUicide PREvention-Multisite Intervention Study on Suicide (WHO/SUPRE-MISS) investigates suicidal behaviours in a number of nations. The feasibility of the different branches of the study was piloted in Queensland, Australia. This paper reports on the community survey component.

Method: Randomised telephone interviews (n=11,572) were conducted to determine the lifetime prevalence of suicidal ideation and attempts, and corresponding socio-demographic and cultural characteristics. A subsequent postal survey sent to consenting individuals reporting lifetime suicide ideation/attempt (n=1311) was meant to ascertain the possible development of that behaviour along a continuum, psychiatric and psychological factors, suicidal transmission, help-seeking, and service utilisation.

Results: Suicide ideation and attempts prevailed in individuals aged 25-44 years, and declined with increasing age. In most cases, suicidal experience/s did not develop over time with progressively increasing severity. Knowledge of someone else's suicidal behaviour significantly increased the risk of similar acts. Almost half of the subjects contended with their suicidal crisis by over-drinking alcohol, and 1/3 through other forms of reckless behaviour. The ratio completed/attempted suicide was 1 to 23. Less than 30% of subjects went to the hospital after their suicidal behaviour, and treatment received and staff attitudes were rated less favourably than that of General Practitioners.

Conclusions: This survey provides a reliable picture of suicide ideation and behaviour in the general population. Information on the development of suicidal process, recklessness, and help-seeking attitudes may be valuable for future prevention strategies.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Cause of Death
  • Child
  • Data Collection
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events
  • Male
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / psychology
  • Personality Inventory
  • Prevalence
  • Regression Analysis
  • Risk Factors
  • Suicide / psychology*
  • Suicide / statistics & numerical data
  • Suicide, Attempted / psychology
  • Suicide, Attempted / statistics & numerical data
  • Surveys and Questionnaires