Prevalence of suicidal ideation, attempts, and completed suicide rate in Chinese aging populations: a systematic review

Arch Gerontol Geriatr. 2013 Nov-Dec;57(3):250-6. doi: 10.1016/j.archger.2013.05.006. Epub 2013 Jun 19.


Background: As one of the leading causes of death around the world, suicide is a global public health threat. Due to the paucity of systematic studies, there exist vast variations in suicide ideation, attempts and suicide rates between various regions of Chinese aging communities.

Objectives: Our systematic study aims to (1) identify studies describing the epidemiology of suicidal ideation, suicide attempts and behaviors among global Chinese communities; (2) conduct systematic review of suicide prevalence; (3) provide cross-cultural insights on this public health issue in the diverse Chinese elderly in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Asian societies and Western countries.

Data sources: Using the PRISMA statement, we performed systematic review including studies describing suicidal ideation, attempts, and behavior among Chinese older adults in different communities. Literature searches were conducted by using both medical and social science data bases in English and Chinese.

Results: Forty-nine studies met inclusion criteria. Whereas suicide in Chinese aging population is a multifaceted issue, culturally appropriate and inter-disciplinary approach to improve the quality of life for the Chinese older adults is critical.

Conclusions: Future research is needed to explore the risk and protective factors associated with suicidal thoughts, attempts and behaviors in representative Chinese aging populations.

Keywords: Chinese population; Older adults; Psychological distress; Suicidal ideation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • China / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Hong Kong / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Sex Factors
  • Suicidal Ideation*
  • Suicide / statistics & numerical data*
  • Suicide, Attempted / statistics & numerical data*
  • Taiwan / epidemiology