Background. Suicidal ideation is a critical point for the identification of individuals at risk of committing suicide/attempting suicide. Whilst existing studies provide valuable data from Western countries, more research is needed to determine the applicability of these findings outside of the context of Western culture.
Method. In a cross–sectional study in Sanandaj, capital of Iranian Kurdistan, 1,000 randomly selected individuals were investigated by means of the Attitudes towards Suicide questionnaire which includes items concerning various suicidal thoughts.
Results. The Iranian Kurds reported very few suicide attempts, whereas the prevalence of reported suicidal thoughts was found to be very high. The assumption of a continuum of suicidal behaviour is supported by our data; but, this did not include self-reported suicide attempts. The various suicidal thoughts showed very low sensitivity and low predictive power in relation to suicide attempts. The reported frequency of suicidal thoughts and the number of suicide attempts during the last year was significantly higher than that from earlier in life. Age was determined to be a substantial moderator variable related to the occurrence of suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts with increasing impact with increasing severity of suicidal behaviour. Gender, cohabitation status and employment situation were largely only weakly associated with the occurrence of suicidal behaviours.
Conclusions. Culture seems to be of low impact upon the relationship between socio-demographical variables and suicidal behaviour. The reported frequency of suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts seems to be highly dependent on applied response categories and the considered timeframe, which has to be considered thoroughly when interpreting related results, and when comparing with findings from other investigations.