Objectives: Estimation of rates of suicidal behaviors (ideation, plan, and attempt) would help to understand the burden and prioritize prevention strategies. However, no attempt to assess suicidal behavior among students was identified in South-East Asia (SEA). We aimed to assess the prevalence of suicidal behavior (ideation, plan, and attempt) among students in SEA.
Methods: We followed PRISMA 2020 guidelines and registered the protocol in PROSPERO (CRD42022353438). We searched in Medline, Embase, and PsycINFO and performed meta-analyses to pool the lifetime, 1-year, and point prevalence rates for suicidal ideation, plans, and attempts. We considered the duration of a month for point prevalence.
Results: The search identified 40 separate populations from which 46 were included in the analyses, as some studies included samples from multiple countries. The pooled prevalence of suicidal ideation was 17.4% (confidence interval [95% CI], 12.4%-23.9%) for lifetime, 9.33% (95% CI, 7.2%-12%) for the past year, and 4.8% (95% CI, 3.6%-6.4%) for the present time. The pooled prevalence of suicide plans was 9% (95% CI, 6.2%-12.9%) for lifetime, 7.3% (95% CI, 5.1%-10.3%) for the past year, and 2.3% (95% CI, 0.8%-6.7%) for the present time. The pooled prevalence of suicide attempts was 5.2% (95% CI, 3.5%-7.8%) for lifetime and 4.5% (95% CI, 3.4%-5.8%) for the past year. Higher rates of suicide attempts in the lifetime were noted in Nepal (10%) and Bangladesh (9%), while lower rates were reported in India (4%) and Indonesia (5%).
Conclusions: Suicidal behaviors are a common phenomenon among students in the SEA region. These findings call for integrated, multisectoral efforts to prevent suicidal behaviors in this group.