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Suicidal expressions in young Swedish Sami, a cross-sectional study
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Clinical Sciences, Psychiatry. (Arcum)
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Clinical Sciences, Psychiatry.
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Clinical Sciences, Psychiatry. (Arcum)
2013 (English)In: International Journal of Circumpolar Health, ISSN 1239-9736, E-ISSN 2242-3982, Vol. 72, 19862- p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Objectives. To investigate the experience of suicidal expressions (death wishes, life weariness, ideation, plans and attempts) in young Swedish Sami, their attitudes toward suicide (ATTS), and experience of suicidal expressions and completed suicide in significant others and to compare with Swedes in general. Methods. A cross-sectional study comprising 516 Swedish Sami, 18-28 years of age together with an age and geographically matched reference group (n = 218). Parts of the ATTS questionnaire have been used to cover different aspects of the suicidal complex. Data were analysed with regard to gender, occupation, counties and experience of negative societal treatment due to Sami background. Results. Both young Sami and young Swedes reported suicidal ideation, life weariness, and death wishes in a high degree (30-50%), but it was more common among the Sami. Having had plans to commit suicide showed a significant gender difference only in the Sami. The prevalence of suicide attempts did not differ significantly between Sami and Swedes. Subgroups of the Sami reported a higher degree of suicidal behaviour, Sami women and reindeer herders reported a 3, 5-fold higher odds of suicide attempts and a 2-fold higher odds having had plans committing suicide. Sami living in Vasterbotten/Jamtland/Vasternorrland and Sami with experience of ethnicity related bad treatment 2-fold higher odds of suicidal plans compared to those living in other counties. Conclusion. An increased occurrence of suicidal ideation/death wishes/life weariness in young Sami compared to young majority Swedes was found, but not an increased prevalence of suicide attempts and positive attitudes together with an increased awareness to handle suicide problems could be a contributing factor. Severe circumstances and experience of ethnicity-related bad treatment seems to contribute to increased levels of suicidal plans and attempts in subgroups of Sami.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
International Association of Circumpolar Health Publishers , 2013. Vol. 72, 19862- p.
Keyword [en]
suicidal ideation, suicide attempt, gender, reindeer herder, idigenous Sami, attitudes towards suicide
National Category
Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology Psychiatry
Research subject
Public health
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-63982DOI: 10.3402/ijch.v72i0.19862ISI: 000317051800001OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-63982DiVA: diva2:585931
Funder
Forte, Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare
Note

Original included in thesis in manuscript form.

Funded by County Council of Norrbotten reseach fund.

Available from: 2013-01-10 Created: 2013-01-10 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Ung same i Sverige: livsvillkor, självvärdering och hälsa
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Ung same i Sverige: livsvillkor, självvärdering och hälsa
2013 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Background

The Sami are the indigenous people in Scandinavia. They have a long history of discrimination, racism and conflict which has had a significant impact on Sami self-esteem and possibly also on their health, especially mental health. There are some recent studies on the mental health of reindeer herding Sami in Sweden showing a high prevalence of self reported depression and anxiety compared to other Swedes in the area. Also a moderately elevated risk of suicide amongst reindeer herding male Sami exists. Several studies on the health of young Norwegian Sami have not found any major differences between the young Sami and young Norwegians in the majority population. This is the first study on the health and living conditions of young Sami in Sweden with a special reference to mental health.

Subjects and methods

Two groups of young Sami have been approached; schoolchildren aged 13-18 years participating in special school programs for Sami children (N=121) and a national sample of young adult Sami aged 18-28 years (N=516) with an explicit Sami identity. The schoolchildren responded to questions about wellbeing and functioning measured by a self report version of Kidscreen-52 and some questions about enculturation and experience of being badly treated because of ethnic background. The young adults responded to a questionnaire about living conditions, Sami identity, health and suicidal expressions, and about experiences of bad treatment because of ethnic background. Data were compared with data from other Swedish youngsters.

Main findings

Being a young Sami in Sweden – Living condition, identity and life satisfaction (Paper I)

A majority of the young adult Sami were proud of being Sami, they had a positive self perception and expressed a wish to preserve their culture. Bad treatment because of Sami background was frequent, about half of all respondents reported this experience and among reindeer herders seventy percent. The Sami experienced that they had to explain and defend the Sami culture and Sami way of living to a high degree, it become obvious that there is lack of knowledge about Sami and Sami culture among Swedes.

The health of young Swedish Sami with special reference to mental health (Paper II)

A majority of the young adults reported feeling healthy but close to half of the group often had worries, often forget things and often experienced lack of time for doing needed things. Women and those living alone reported more negative health. Sami with experience of bad treatment due to Sami background also reported a worse health i.e. more worries, more lack of time to do needed things and not feeling calm and relaxed.

Healthrelated quality of life in Sami schoolchildren in Sweden (Paper III)

The Sami children reported lower health-related quality of life (HRQL) compared to Swedish children in general. Girls had lower physical and psychological wellbeing than boys. Sami school children with experience of ethnicity related bad treatment reported a lower HRQL compared to those without this experience.

Suicidal expressions in young Swedish Sami (Paper IV)

Both young adult Sami and a reference group of young Swedes from the same geographical area (N=218) reported suicidal ideation, life weariness and death wishes to a high degree (30-50 %) but this was more common among Sami. The prevalence of suicide attempts did not, differ between Sami and other young Swedes, but subgroups of the Sami (reindeer herders and those being badly treated due to ethnicity) reported a higher degree of suicide attempts and having had plans to take own life compared to Sami without this experience.

Conclusion

The less favourable wellbeing (HRQL) of the Sami children in this study compared to Swedish children in general is worrisome and might partly be explained by experiences of ethnic related bad treatment, which can be especially troublesome in the turbulent adolescent years. The young adult Sami however seem to have a rather good or even better health compared to other young Swedes. They are proud of being Sami, have a close connection to the Sami community and strong connections to family and relatives. These are possible protective factors partly explaining the wellbeing of this group in spite of the high degree of ethnic related bad treatment reported.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå universitet, 2013. 58 p.
Series
Umeå University medical dissertations, ISSN 0346-6612 ; 1543
Keyword
Samer, urfolk, psykisk hälsa, skolbarn, discriminering, unga vuxna, könsskillnader
National Category
Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
Research subject
Public health
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-63988 (URN)978-917459-548-2 (ISBN)
Public defence
2013-02-05, Föreläsningssal A, psykiatriska kliniken, byggnad 32, Norrlands universitets sjukhuset, Umeå, 09:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Funder
Forte, Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare
Note

Funded by Country Council of Norrbotten reseach fund

Available from: 2013-01-14 Created: 2013-01-10 Last updated: 2016-08-17Bibliographically approved

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