The number of suicide attempts in developing countries has been increasing progressively, as in the West. It is important to note that much of the data on suicidal behaviour is based on information obtained from developed Western societies. All such data need to be evaluated within their specific cultural context as well as cross-culturally. The present study explored the various socio-demographic, clinical characteristics of suicide attempters in a general hospital unit in India. There were certain findings that contrasted markedly with those observed in the West. Male suicides tended to predominate here, as in many Indian studies. None of them were living alone, separated or deserted by their partner. Some suicide attempters continued to live with their extended family. There was virtually no alcohol consumption by female suicide attempters. The commonest agents used were organophosphates and other household poisons. Several cross-cultural variations in the suicidal act emerged compared to the West. The 'suicide potential' in the Indian culture is discussed.