Attempted suicide in Hanoi, Vietnam

  • Huong Tran Thi Thanh
  • Guo-Xin Jiang
  • Tuong Nguyen Van
  • Duc Pham Thi Minh
  • Hans Rosling
  • Danuta Wasserman



Attempted suicide is a key predictor of suicide, which is among the dominant causes of young people’s deaths worldwide. Very little is known about the characteristics of suicide attempters in Asia, especially in Vietnam.


Medical records of 509 patients (515 attempted-suicide events) admitted to Bach Mai General Hospital in Hanoi, Vietnam from 1 January 1999 to 30 April 2001 were analysed according to the criteria of the WHO Multicentre Study of Attempted Suicide.


The suicide attempters’ mean age was 28.3±12.9 years. Nearly half (48.7%) were aged 15–24. The female-to-male ratio of patients living in urban areas (2.1:1) was higher than in rural areas (1.2:1). In urban areas, students (32 %) and homeworkers (28%) and, in rural areas, farmers (56 %) and students (17%) were the salient occupational categories. Acute life stressors were the main causes (73.8%) of suicide attempts. Only in some 6% of cases had a psychiatric illness been diagnosed before the suicide attempts. As a means of attempting suicide, intoxication with analgesics and antipyretics (e. g. paracetamol) with low medical lethality scores was a frequent method among the urban patients, the majority of whom (81%) consequently stayed in hospital less than 24 h. Pesticide and rat poison, more commonly (57.2%) used by attempters in rural areas, had higher medical lethality scores and also necessitated more prolonged hospital treatment.


Some suicide-preventive strategies used in the West for young people may be applicable in Vietnam. Reducing access to pesticides and rat poison is comparable to western efforts to make paracetamol or firearms less freely available. Skills in resolving family and other conflicts can be taught in schools according to WHO’s suicide-prevention resources for teachers.

Key words

attempted suicide hospital records age gender causes methods psychiatric diagnoses prevention Vietnam 


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Copyright information

© Steinkopff Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Huong Tran Thi Thanh
    • 1
    • 3
  • Guo-Xin Jiang
    • 3
  • Tuong Nguyen Van
    • 1
  • Duc Pham Thi Minh
    • 1
  • Hans Rosling
    • 2
  • Danuta Wasserman
    • 3
  1. 1.Hanoi Medical UniversityHanoiVietnam
  2. 2.Division of International Health, Dept. of Public Health SciencesKarolinska InstitutetStockholmSweden
  3. 3.Swedish National Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention of Mental Ill-Health (NASP) and Dept. of Public Health SciencesKarolinska Institutet SolnaStockholmSweden

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