Suicidal ideation in medical students: Who is at risk?

Angela P.C. Fan, Russell O. Kosik, Greg A. Mandell, Dong Trieu Phuong Tran, Hao Min Cheng, Chen Huan Chen, Tung Pying Su, Allen W.H. Chiu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Introduction: Suicide is one of the most tragic problems medical schools are facing today. It is an issue that has not escaped medical schools in either developing or developed nations. To combat this trend, medical educators require effi cient and effective strategies for the immediate identifi cation of students who are at an elevated risk of harming themselves. Materials and Methods: National Yang Ming University medical students were surveyed on various demographic, academic, personal, and extracurricular subjects as well as assessed for suicidal ideation. In addition, students completed the Chinese Health Questionnaire (CHQ, a translated and modifi ed version of the General Health Questionnaire, GHQ), and the Taiwanese Depression Questionnaire (TDQ, a translated and modifi ed version of the Center for Epidemiologic Studies' Depression Scale, CES-D). Results: The rate of suicidal ideation was signifi cantly higher in second year students as opposed to fi rst year students (P <0.01). Students of lower socioeconomic status (P = 0.04), with non-infl ammatory joint pain (P = 0.02), with headache (P = 0.047), with sleep disorders (P = 0.04), who scored as depressed on the TDQ (P <0.01), and/or who scored abnormally on the CHQ (P <0.01) were all signifi cantly more likely to have experienced suicidal ideation. Conclusion: A number of groups at high risk for suicidal ideation, and thus in greater need of support, were identifi ed. Suicide intervention programmes and depression counselling should target older students and students of lower socioeconomic status. Students presenting to university clinics with non-infl ammatory joint pain, headache, and/or sleep disorders should be evaluated for suicidal tendencies. The TDQ and CHQ are potentially valuable screening tests for early detection of potential suicidal students.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)377-382
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of the Academy of Medicine, Singapore
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2012


  • CHQ
  • Depression
  • Socioeconomic status
  • Stress
  • TDQ


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