Young people in the developing countries need specially customised suicide prevention programmes

May 12, 2014

It is vital that both cultural and gender differences are taken into account when drawing up programmes aimed at preventing suicide among young people in low- to middle-income countries. This is the conclusion of a doctoral thesis from Sweden's Umeå University.

"Suicide among young people is a global health problem. There is a lack of knowledge and understanding about the factors that affect the risk of and about the importance of different suicidal expressions in many low and middle-income countries. In order to implement effective preventative measures it is necessary to study the differences in suicidal expressions between different countries," says Bhoomikumar Jegannathan, PhD student at the Department of Clinical Sciences, Umeå University, who will be defending his thesis on the subject.

He says that many young people in Cambodia have challenges in negotiating between old traditions and modern life. Besides, there is an ambiguity within Buddhism when it comes to the understanding of suicide; cultural influences from other countries may be contributing to an increase in among young people. Conflicts with parents can put young people in a difficult situation and some view suicide as a means to escape from these difficulties.

In his thesis, Bhoomikumar Jegannathan, who is also child psychiatrist in the Kandal province of Cambodia, has conducted questionnaire surveys where school students can anonymously state their mental health status, life experiences and whether they had ever had a death wish, , or if they have ever planned or attempted suicide. In one study, he also compared different expressions of suicide in Cambodian and Nicaraguan youths. Nicaraguan teenagers reported more suicidal expressions than Cambodian teenagers, on the contrary the Cambodian teenagers reported more than Nicaraguans. Suicidal problems were associated with mental health problems in Nicaragua, unlike in Cambodia which shows that the associated factors differ from culture to culture.

His thesis contains a study in which he investigates ways in which the educational programme Life Skills Education can be used to influence the mental health of young people and their ability to handle life's situations. The programme is made up of six modules and is taught by specially trained teachers.

"These results show the importance of taking cultural and gender-specific differences into account when preparing suicide prevention programmes. It is also vital that we analyse what triggers these suicidal expressions among teenagers. It has been established, however, that school-based programmes create possibilities for improving and preventing suicide among in Cambodia," says Bhoomikumar Jegannathan.

Explore further: Around 60 percent of people who contemplate or attempt suicide do not receive treatment

Related Stories

Promising biomarkers to predict suicide risk

May 2, 2014

In a Review, published to coincide with the launch of The Lancet Psychiatry journal, Professor Kees van Heeringen from Ghent University in Belgium and John Mann from Columbia University in the USA discuss the stress-diathesis ...

Recommended for you

Elderly may face increased dementia risk after a disaster

October 24, 2016

Elderly people who were uprooted from damaged or destroyed homes and who lost touch with their neighbors after the 2011 tsunami in Japan were more likely to experience increased symptoms of dementia than those who were able ...

Research examines role of early-life stress in adult illness

October 24, 2016

Scientists have long known that chronic exposure to psychosocial stress early in life can lead to an increased vulnerability later in life to diseases linked to immune dysfunction and chronic inflammation, including arthritis, ...

Plan ahead for successful aging, researcher says

October 20, 2016

For many people, the prospect of aging is scary and uncomfortable, but Florida State University Assistant Professor Dawn Carr says that research reveals a few tips that can improve our chances of a long, healthy life.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.