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Very few studies have examined the cross-national prevalence of suicidal ideation in the general population or variables associated with it.
To examine the risk factors for suicidal ideas in the general population.
As part of a five-country two stage epidemiological study of depressive disorder (the ODIN study) a random sample of over 12 000 people were screened using the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI). There followed detailed analysis of item 9 of the BDI, which measured the severity of suicidal ideation.
Age, marriage, concern by others and severity of depressed mood independently increased or decreased the odds of suicidal ideation overall. An interaction between life events and social supports was identified, although this differed between men and women. Only concern by others and severity of depression were independently associated with serious suicidal ideation. The study does not allow for interpretation of the direction of the association.
A number of social, clinical and demographic variables were independently associated with all suicidal ideation and with serious suicidal ideation. Longitudinal studies are required to confirm whether these are risk factors for or the result of suicidal ideation or have some other relationship.
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