The International Handbook of Suicide Prevention: Research, Policy and Practice

By Rory C. O’Connor; Jane Pirkis | Go to book overview

30
Suicide in Asia
Epidemiology, Risk Factors, and Prevention

Murad M. Khan, Nargis Asad,
and Ehsanullah Syed


Setting the Context

To understand suicidal behavior in its proper context, the following section describes some of the sociocultural and demographic details of the Asian continent.

Asia is the largest continent of the world, spanning almost half of the earth’s land mass with a total area of 44,479,000 square kilometers. It covers a vast region from Turkey in the West to Japan in the East and includes the archipelagos of Indonesia, Malaysia, and Philippines in the South East.

Asia comprises regions as culturally diverse as the Central Asian republics of the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR); the Middle East, which is predominantly Muslim and Arabic speaking; and the Far East, comprising Chinese, Malay, Japanese, and Korean people, speaking a variety of oriental languages and following different religions, ranging from Buddhism and Hinduism to Catholicism and Islam. The diversity and heterogeneity of Asian cultures and religions sometimes makes it very difficult to understand Asia as a single region, and lumping Asian countries or cultures together as “Asia” or “Asian” can be misleading.

Despite the heterogeneity, there are many commonalities within Asian societies: Most are collectivistic with strong family ties. Spiritual aspect of religious practices and beliefs is a common thread running through most of Asia. Although urbanization and industrial development have led to many changes and transformation, this has had both positive and negative effects.

Asia is also the home of almost 60% of the world’s inhabitants, reaching a population of more than 4.4 billion in 2014. China and India alone contribute almost 2.6 billion of this population. At the other extreme are countries like Saudi Arabia that have a large land mass but are sparsely populated.

The average gross domestic product (GDP; the monetary value of all the finished goods and services produced within a country’s borders in a specific time period) of

The International Handbook of Suicide Prevention, Second Edition. Edited by Rory C. O’Connor and Jane Pirkis. © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Published 2016 by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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