Hong Kong Med J 2003;9:419-26 | Number 6, December 2003
Suicide in Hong Kong: epidemiological profile and burden analysis, 1981 to 2001
PSF Yip, CK Law, YW Law
The Hong Kong Jockey Club Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention, The University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong
OBJECTIVE. To describe changes of the epidemiological profile of suicides in Hong Kong, and the burden of suicides in terms of years of life lost between 1981 and 2001.
DESIGN. Retrospective study.
SETTING. Hong Kong.
PARTICIPANTS. Data on registered deaths of the Hong Kong population from 1981 to 2001 were retrieved from records of the Census and Statistics Department of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES. Crude, standardised, age- and sex-standardised suicide rates; years of life lost; suicide method used; and rank among leading causes of death.
RESULTS. Suicide ranked sixth in the leading cause of deaths and represented about 3% of all deaths each year. The suicide rate has increased from 9.6 per 100 000 to 15 per 100 000 between 1981 and 2001. The total years of life lost due to suicide increased by 96.0%, from about 9900 years in 1981 to 19 400 years in 2001, whereas the figure for all causes of death decreased by 14.0%, from 274 600 years to 236 700 years. The total share of years of life lost attributable to suicide deaths has increased from 3.6% to 8.1% and is still increasing, especially among in the middle age-groups (30-59 years). The use of charcoal burning as a suicide method has increased from 6.0% before 1998 to more than 28.0% in 2001.
CONCLUSION. The burden on the years of life lost due to suicide is underestimated and overlooked. The increase of suicides in recent years has had a significant impact on the years of life lost and can be used as a useful indicator of performance in Hong Kong.
Key words: Hong Kong; Suicide
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