Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology

, Volume 49, Issue 4, pp 573–582

Suicidal behavior among homeless people in Japan

  • Tsuyoshi Okamura
  • Kae Ito
  • Suimei Morikawa
  • Shuichi Awata
Original Paper



The purpose of this study is to investigate the frequency and correlates of suicidal behavior among homeless people in Japan.


A face-to-face survey was conducted in two districts of Tokyo, Japan, with 423 subjects who resided on streets and riversides and in urban parks and stations (street homeless) or who were residents of shelters, cheap hotels, or welfare homes for homeless people (sheltered homeless).


When questioned about suicidal ideation in the previous 2 weeks, 51 subjects (12.2 % of valid responses) had a recurring wish to die, 29 (6.9 %) had frequent thoughts of suicide, and 22 (5.3 %) had made suicide plans. In addition, 11 (2.9 %) subjects had attempted suicide in the previous 2 weeks and 74 (17.7 %) reported that they had ever attempted suicide. In univariate logistic regression analyses, street homelessness, lack of perceived emotional social support, poor subjective health perception, visual impairment, pain, insomnia, poor mental well-being, and current depression were significantly associated with recurrent thoughts of suicide in the previous 2 weeks. Among these, current depression had the greatest significance. In multivariate logistic regression analyses after controlling for depression, street homelessness and lack of perceived emotional social support were significantly associated with recurrent thoughts of suicide in the previous 2 weeks.


Comprehensive interventions including housing and social support as well as mental health services might be crucial as effective strategies for suicide prevention among homeless people.


Suicide Homelessness Social support Housing Depression 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tsuyoshi Okamura
    • 1
    • 2
  • Kae Ito
    • 1
    • 3
  • Suimei Morikawa
    • 4
  • Shuichi Awata
    • 1
  1. 1.Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of GerontologyTokyoJapan
  2. 2.Department of Neuropsychiatry, Graduate School of MedicineUniversity of TokyoTokyoJapan
  3. 3.Department of Geriatrics and Vascular MedicineTokyo Medical and Dental University Graduate SchoolTokyoJapan
  4. 4.Yowa HospitalTokyoJapan

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