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Suicide ideation, plans and attempts in Ukraine: findings from the Ukraine World Mental Health Survey


Background. Because the suicide rates in Eastern Europe have increased, the epidemiology of suicide behaviors in this part of the world is in urgent need of study. Using data from the Ukraine site of the World Mental Health (WMH) Survey Initiative, we present the first population-based findings from a former Soviet country on the descriptive epidemiology of suicide ideation, plans and attempts, and their links to current functioning and service utilization.

Method. In 2002, a nationally representative sample of 4725 adults in Ukraine was interviewed with the World Health Organization (WHO) Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI). Risk factors included demographic characteristics, trauma, smoking, and parental and personal psychiatric disorders. Current functional impairments and recent service utilization were assessed.

Results. The lifetime prevalence of suicide ideation was 8·2%. The average age of onset was 31. The key risk factors were female sex, younger age, trauma, parental depression, and prior alcohol, depressive and intermittent explosive disorders, especially the presence of co-morbidity. Ideators had poorer functioning and greater use of health services. One-third of ideators had a plan, and one-fifth made an attempt. Among ideators, young age, smoking and prior psychiatric disorders were risk factors for these behaviors.

Conclusions. Together with the increasing suicide rate, these results suggest that suicide intervention programs in Ukraine should focus on the generation of young adults under 30. The associations with co-morbidity, impairments in current functioning and greater service use indicate that a physician education program on suicidality should be comprehensive in scope and a public health priority in Ukraine.

Corresponding author
Department of Psychiatry, SUNY Stony Brook, Putnam Hall-South Campus, Stony Brook, NY 11794-8790, USA. (Email:
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Psychological Medicine
  • ISSN: 0033-2917
  • EISSN: 1469-8978
  • URL: /core/journals/psychological-medicine
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