Adolescent suicide attempters in Hong Kong and the United States

Sunita M. Stewart, Elizabeth Felice, Cindy Claassen, Betsy D. Kennard, Peter W H Lee, Graham J. Emslie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Using a nested case-control design drawing from a larger sample of 2272 adolescents, this study examined the characteristics of adolescents from Hong Kong ( n = 9 9) and the United States (US) ( n = 6 0), who indicated that they had made a suicide attempt at least once in the past, compared to their equally depressed sex- and age-matched counterparts who had not attempted suicide. The cross-cultural literature suggested three hypotheses which were tested: (a) depressive symptoms would differentiate between suicide attempters compared to non-attempters less in Hong Kong and more in the US; (b) discord in interpersonal relationships would be a more important distinguishing factor in suicide attempts in Hong Kong than in the US and (c) cognitive variables such as hopelessness would be less associated with suicide attempts in Hong Kong compared to the US. There were strong similarities in the two cultures with regard to characteristics that distinguished between attempters and matched controls. Hypotheses regarding cultural differences between attempters in Hong Kong and the US were not supported. Depression, current and lifetime suicide ideation, hopelessness, poor interpersonal relationships and exposure to suicide attempters and completers distinguished attempters from controls equally in the two cultures and in both genders. These findings do not support the proposition that depression is a less relevant variable in suicide attempts in Chinese versus western groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)296-306
Number of pages11
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 2006


  • Adolescent
  • China
  • Culture
  • Depression
  • Hong Kong
  • Suicide
  • USA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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