Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic autoimmune disease that affects multiple organs. Because of double damages of body and mind, SLE patients are in a potential risk of suicide. Many factors may contribute to the occurrence of suicide in SLE: socioeconomic factors, medical factors, mental health, family support and coping style. This study aims to investigate the prevalence and correlates of suicidal ideation in SLE inpatients in China in order to determine whether they had risk of suicide, and if so, what factors should be paid more attention to prevent suicide in wards. A total of 285 SLE patients were interviewed with questionnaires on suicidal ideation and socio-demographic characteristics, Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), Family APGAR and Trait Coping Style Questionnaire (TCSQ). Disease activity was assessed with SLE Disease Activity Index. The other medical information was collected from the patients' medical records. In total, 34.4% of SLE patients had current suicidal ideation. Significant individual risk factors for current suicidal ideation in SLE patients included having religious belief, heavy self-reported financial burdens, long duration of SLE, low level of family functioning and negative coping style. And in the presence of these risk factors, being separated, divorced or widowed, having premorbid suicidal ideation and depression were independent predictors of suicidal ideation. In summary, the rate of suicidal ideation in SLE patients in China is higher than that in other countries. Factors that contribute to risk of suicidal ideation include social and cultural domains and physical and psychological health. Although the association of suicidal ideation to religions and medical factors is still to be investigated, these findings may give some references to suicide prevention efforts for SLE patients in China.