Suicidal thought is a risk factor and a stage in the suicidal process from planning to attempting and dying by suicide. To date, studies on suicidal thought in the general population, especially in Asian communities, have been limited.
The WHO SUPRE-MISS (the multisite intervention study on suicidal behaviours) community survey questionnaire was filled in for 2,280 randomly selected residents of the DongDa district of Hanoi, Vietnam by means of face-to-face interviews. This multi-factor questionnaire includes such variables as sociodemographic information, suicidal thought and history of suicide attempts, physical health, alcohol consumption and medication.
Prevalence rates for life time suicidal thoughts, suicide plans and suicide attempts were 8.9%, 1.1% and 0.4% respectively. Suicidal thoughts are associated with multiple characteristics, such as female gender, single/widowed/separated/divorced marital status, low income, lifestyle (use of alcohol, sedatives and pain relief medication), but not with low education or employment status. Having no religion and being a Buddhist appear to be protective factors for suicidal thought.
The ratio of suicidal thoughts, suicide plans and suicide attempts on a lifetime basis is 22.3:2.8:1.
In Vietnam, as in Western and other Asian countries, suicidal thoughts are associated with similar negative psychosocial risk factors, lifestyle and emotional problems, which implies that suicide preventive measure developed elsewhere can be adjusted to Vietnamese condition. Understanding the unique and common risks in a culture may assist in prediction and control.