Year: 2021 Source: Journal of Affective Disorders. (2021). 297, 559-569. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2021.10.106. SIEC No: 20210851

Background: Social support network offers a large potential in augmenting suicide prevention efforts tailored for the young generation (YG), but has so far been largely overlooked in population health studies. Key issues that remain scarcely understood include the composition of the YG’s activated support network when they faced psychological distress, along with the prevalence and suicide risk profile associated with these patterns.

Methods: Using data from three consecutive population-representative surveys (2018-2020) on help-seeking behaviors of the YG living in Hong Kong, we first conducted latent class analysis to derive the YG’s help-seeking patterns. Next, we conducted multinomial logistic regression to identify unique factors associated with each pattern and multiple logistic regressions for suicide risk indicators to examine risk levels associated with each pattern.

Results: Analyses revealed 4 underlying patterns of help-seeking behaviors among the study population. Each pattern was consistently associated with a distinct suicide risk profile based on constituents’ level of distress and history of suicide risk behaviors. Severity of suicide risk increased as individuals increased the activation radius of their social convoy, and this increase was more pronounced when individuals extended the radius beyond their inner circle. Individuals whose activated inner circle consisted of family members in addition to just friends & partner had lower suicide risks.

Conclusions: Social support networks hold much potential in augmenting suicide prevention efforts tailored for the general young population. Such efforts may be directed at empowering the inner circle of their convoy, given its predominance for the YG to seek help from.