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Suicidal ideators without major depression—whom are we not reaching?


Objectives — To describe individuals who reported suicidal ideation but neither met the criteria for major depression (MD) nor were in contact with mental health services in the previous year.

Method — Data were drawn from the Canadian Community Health Survey: Mental Health and Well-Being (CCHS 1.2). Conducted in 2002, the CCHS 1.2 was a cross-sectional population-based survey of 36 984 Canadian household residents aged 15 years or more. First, we described the individuals who reported suicidal ideation, were without MD, and were not in contact with mental health services (n = 584) as well as their nonsuicidal counterparts (n = 31 382) based on various demographic and health status variables. Second, to analyse whether these same variables are associated with mental health service contact(s) among suicidal individuals without MD, we compared those who were in contact with mental health services (n = 209) to those who were not (n = 584).

Results — Almost one-half (47.9%) of the suicidal ideators were without both MD and a mental health service contact in the previous year. Individuals in this group were younger and exhibited greater morbidity than their nonsuicidal counterparts (without MD or mental health service contact) but did not differ by sex. Although male and female respondents were equally represented among the suicidal ideators without MD, male respondents were less likely to contact mental health services. Such contact was more likely among female respondents and individuals with an anxiety disorder.

Conclusions — These findings underscore the need for further research evaluating early intervention programs that succeed in capturing suicidal youths, particularly male youths.



Rhodes AE, Bethell J. Can J Psychiatry. 2008; 53(2):125-30.

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