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Attitudes towards suicide among Kurdish people in Iran
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Clinical Sciences, Psychiatry.
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work.
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Clinical Sciences, Psychiatry.
Child and Adolescent Psychiatry- Oslo.
2008 (English)In: Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, ISSN 0933-7954, E-ISSN 1433-9285, Vol. 43, no 4, 291-298 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Background Attitudes towards suicide represent a key stage in the pathway leading to suicide. A deeper understanding of the social, psychological and treatment-related factors influencing the development of attitudes towards suicide could guide suicide prevention strategies especially in a neglected population like Kurds.

Methods In a cross-sectional study in Iranian Kurdistan, 1,000 households participated in the investigation from April to May 2006 selected by a cluster random sampling process. A questionnaire on attitudes towards suicide (ATTS) was used to measure suicide related attitudes and thoughts.

Results Suicide related experiences were more often reported from the wider social network (relative, friends, acquaintances) than from family members. There is a significant accumulation of suicide related experiences when a related event was reported in the close family. The level of suicide related attitudes is related to age, gender, marital status, level of education and employment status.

Discussion Openness towards the topic of suicide as well as abilities to communicate about it should be improved by educating the public and additionally be promoted by changing conservative value systems.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2008. Vol. 43, no 4, 291-298 p.
Keyword [en]
attitudes towards suicide, suicide attempts, Iranian Kurds, cross-sectional study
National Category
Sociology Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology Psychiatry
Research subject
Psychiatry; Social Medicine; Sociology
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-9573DOI: 10.1007/s00127-007-0296-7PubMedID: 18157515OAI: diva2:149244
Available from: 2008-04-28 Created: 2008-04-28 Last updated: 2011-06-22Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Studies on mental health in Kurdistan - Iran
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Studies on mental health in Kurdistan - Iran
2009 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The aim of this thesis was to carry out an epidemiological study on mental health related issues in the Kurdish population of Iran. This part of Iran suffered directly during the Iran-Iraq war 1980-1988. Iran is an Islamic republic with strict adherence to Islamic traditions, which has implications for the way of life and gender issues. Suicide is prohibited according to Islamic teaching, but still there is a rather high suicide incidence especially among young women, who burn themselves to death. This thesis deals with mental health in general, the prevalence of post traumatic stress disorder and issues related to suicide.

In a cross- sectional study in Sanandaj, the capital of the province of Iranian Kurdistan, 1000 households were approached. One member of each household was asked to respond to the following internationally well-known questionnaires; General Health Questionnaire (GHQ12), Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Checklist (PCL), Life Events Check List (LEC), Beck Depression Inventory (BDI-II) and Attitude Toward Suicide (ATTS). PCL and LEC were translated to Farsi and their psychometric properties were studied. The other instruments have already been translated and used by other researchers in Iran.

About 27% of the subjects were found to suffer from mental distress according to GHQ-12.

No gender differences were found. Unmarried and unemployed belong to the most afflicted.

The participants in the investigation reported, not surprisingly, a low level of personal experiences of suicidal behaviour in their family. Females were more prone to believe that suicide is preventable compared to males.

A low number reported suicide attempts during the last year. Being married seemed to have a protective effect against suicide attempts for males but not for females. Suicide behaviour was not substantially related to PTSD, but to severe depression.

The idea that there is a continuity of suicidal behaviour from suicidal thoughts to suicide attempts was supported. Younger individuals more often reported thoughts of life weariness and those who reported suicide attempts were younger than individuals with no suicidal attempts. Females reported more death wishes than males during the last year and married women more often reported suicide attempts than men.

The prevalence of posttraumatic stress disorder was 10, 9% which is higher than reported in other countries, but still lower than expected. Women suffered significantly more often from PTSD than men. Women reported also more often re-experiencing and more arousal symptoms than men. The finding supported a good construct validity of PCL.

One major limitation of these studies is the fact that the sample was drawn from the population of the capital city of the province. So the finding cannot probably be generalized to Iranian Kurds from rural areas.

The sample also had a rather high educational level compared to the population of Sanandaj. To this should be added the fact that the instruments used are developed in the western culture, which might influence the way questions are perceived. So, the result should be interpreted with some caution.

The results, however, give indications that there are mental health problems of a magnitude that should be taken seriously. 

42 p.
Umeå University medical dissertations, ISSN 0346-6612 ; 1272
Kurdistan, Psychiatric epidemiology, General mental health, PTSD, Suicide
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-22581 (URN)978-91-7264-807-4 (ISBN)
Public defence
2009-06-04, Sal A, By 23.NUS, Pchiatric department, Psychatric clinic, 13:00 (English)
Available from: 2009-05-19 Created: 2009-05-13 Last updated: 2009-05-20Bibliographically approved

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