Determinants of Suicide Ideation: A Comparison of Chinese and American College Students

By Jie, Zhang; Jin, Shenghua | Adolescence, Summer 1996 | Go to article overview

Determinants of Suicide Ideation: A Comparison of Chinese and American College Students


Jie, Zhang, Jin, Shenghua, Adolescence


The suicide rate among American youth, especially those 15 to 24 years of age, has increased dramatically during the past three decades. According to data published by the National Center for Health Statistics (1991), suicide is the third leading cause of death among adolescents aged 15-19, and from 1957 to 1987 the suicide rate for 15 to 24-year-olds increased from 4 to 12.9 per 100,000. During the same period, the suicide rate for the general population rose from 9.8 to 12.7 per 100,000.

Among the 15 major predictors of suicide (Maris et al., 1991), depression and alcoholism are ranked first and second, while suicide ideation and prior suicide attempts are ranked third and fourth. Since nonfatal suicide attempts, talk about suicide or dying, and explicit plans or preparations for dying or suicide all increase suicide risk, an improved understanding of adolescent suicide ideation and suicide attempts may lead to more effective prevention.

This study compared factors underlying suicide ideation between Chinese and American college students. Since comparative studies usually provide insights into culture-specific phenomena, this study is designed to provide insight into the culture factors that directly impact suicide ideation.

The sociological literature on Chinese adolescent suicides or suicide ideation is scarce at best. The limited research (we are aware of only one study as reviewed later in this article) in China has been confined to completed suicides rather than suicide ideation, and descriptive frequencies and case studies rather than hypothesis testing or multi-factor analysis. The dearth of suicide research on China results from two basic factors: the short history of Chinese sociology; and information control by the Chinese government. Soon after the Chinese communist takeover in 1949, sociology was abolished as a result the government's support of the Soviet model. Joseph Stalin had earlier denounced sociology as a "bourgeois pseudo-science" and banned the field from Soviet academia. More importantly, there was no room for sociology in the People's Republic of China, where Marxism-Leninism-Maoism was deemed the only appropriate rubric for social analysis. The ban on sociology was not lifted until 1979, after the end of the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), with the death of Mao Zedong.

The political fallout of the 1989 Tiananmen incident created new problems for Chinese sociology. Some conservative communist leaders blamed sociology for the democratic movement. Sociology is once again accused of being an ideology designed to spread doubts about socialism. Data on social problems and deviance, which were controlled and kept secret since the beginning of the communist regime, are now completely removed from public and academic access. It is hoped that this study will contribute to filling this research gap on suicide ideation in the Chinese population by analyzing predictors and making comparison with an American sample.

THEORETICAL MODEL

Researchers who study suicide have traditionally used two theoretical models: the social structural and the psychological (Braucht, 1979). The social structural model views suicide as the result of environmental determinants, and the research focuses on environmental factors which distinguish suicidal from nonsuicidal subjects. The psychological model views suicide as the result of psychological determinants, and the research focuses on personal characteristics or traits which distinguish suicidal from nonsuicidal subjects.

In criticizing the common psychological perspective's belief that depression causes suicidal behavior, Durkheim ([1897] 1951) argued that the suicide rate among males is higher than that of females, while females are more likely to be depressed. According to Durkheim's analysis, suicide rates vary inversely with social integration. While many persons who become suicidal have experienced major life stress and depression, most who experience similar stress and depression do not commit suicide or think about it.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Determinants of Suicide Ideation: A Comparison of Chinese and American College Students
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.