BACKGROUND: Suicide prevention centres play an important role on suicide prevention in communities. A better understanding of clients to these centres is essential and informative to suicide prevention. This study aimed to document the referral pattern of clients to a suicide prevention centre over a 10-year period and to capture their characteristics. METHODS: All suicidal clients during 1996 to 2005 were included and compared with the regional population. Data were retrieved from longitudinal registers. RESULTS: There were in total 4274 contacts from 3505 individuals because of suicide attempt (38%) or suicide ideation (62%). Source of referral included self-initiation or family (25.4%), psychiatric hospitals (23.5%), general practitioners (21.7%), and somatic hospitals (15.1%). The clients were more likely females and persons at young ages. Compared with regional sex-age-matched counterparts, suicidal clients significantly more often had a history of psychiatric contact, were born by young parents, had no recorded link to a mother or father, had lost a parent, and had a parental psychiatric history. Also, they were often frequent movers and residents with a foreign citizenship. CONCLUSIONS: This study provided insights about the referral pattern of suicidal clients as well as client characteristics on selected variables at the birth and during upbringing, which may be informative to suicide intervention targeting at this group of population.