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Suicide Ideation and Psychosocial Distress in Sub-Saharan African Youth

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Objectives : To determine if there is an association between psychosocial distress, health-risk behaviors and 12-month suicidal ideation among sub-Saharan African adolescents

Methods : Subjects included a cross-national sample of adolescents (N25,568) representing 7 African countries who completed the Global School-based Student Health Survey (GSHS).

Results : Students with 3-4 psychosocial distress indicators were 4-5 times more likely to report suicide ideation or having made a suicide plan, and those with 4-5 risky health behaviors were 2.5-3.5 times more likely.

Conclusions : Interventions designed to identify African adolescents with cumulative psychosocial distress indicators and risky health behaviors have potential as effective suicide prevention strategies.

Keywords: adolescents; psychosocial distress; sub-Saharan Africa; suicidal behavior; suicidal ideation

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1 Professor, Department of Health Science, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT.

Publication date: March 1, 2011

More about this publication?
  • The American Journal of Health Behavior seeks to improve the quality of life through multidisciplinary health efforts in fostering a better understanding of the multidimensional nature of both individuals and social systems as they relate to health behaviors.

    The Journal aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the impact of personal attributes, personality characteristics, behavior patterns, social structure, and processes on health maintenance, health restoration, and health improvement; to disseminate knowledge of holistic, multidisciplinary approaches to designing and implementing effective health programs; and to showcase health behavior analysis skills that have been proven to affect health improvement and recovery.

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