Ethnicity and its influence on suicide rates and risk

Ethn Health. 2012;17(1-2):141-8. doi: 10.1080/13557858.2011.645151. Epub 2011 Dec 19.


Objectives: To investigate the influence of ethnicity on suicide, and related risk indicators including psychiatric symptoms, among patients committing suicide whilst admitted to psychiatric hospitals.

Design: The suicide rates and standardized mortality ratios (SMRs) for inpatient suicides between 1996 and 2001 were calculated from national suicide data on the four largest ethnic groups in England and Wales: Black Caribbean, Black African, South Asian (Indian, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi), and a White British comparison group. The symptoms and risk indicators at the time of the suicide were retrospectively reported by the lead clinician who was responsible for the hospital care of the patient.

Results: Classical suicide risk indicators such as suicidal ideas, depressive symptoms, emotional distress, and hopelessness were significantly more common among White British inpatients than other ethnic groups. Male inpatients from Black African backgrounds were significantly more likely to have committed suicide than White British men (SMR 2.05, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.12-3.43). Women committing suicide as inpatients were significantly less likely to be of South Asian (SMR 0.4, 95% CI: 0.17-0.78) and Black Caribbean (SMR 0.26, 95% CI: 0.09-0.62) backgrounds than White British women.

Conclusions: Suicide rates and classical indicators of suicide risk among inpatients committing suicide vary by ethnic group. Black African men have the highest rates of suicide compared to the White British group.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Asians
  • Blacks
  • Canada
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Ethnicity / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inpatients
  • Male
  • Poisson Distribution
  • Psychometrics
  • Risk Factors
  • Risk*
  • Suicidal Ideation*
  • Suicide / statistics & numerical data*
  • United Kingdom
  • Whites