261180 Prevalence and gender differences in suicide ideation of youth: A cross-national comparison of 23 countries

Wednesday, October 31, 2012 : 8:50 AM - 9:10 AM

Monica H. Swahn, PhD , Institute of Public Health, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA
Jane Palmier, JD, MPH , Institute of Public Health, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA
Huang Yao, MA , School of Business, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA
Objective: This study examined the prevalence of suicide ideation across 23 countries based on nationally representative samples of youth, primarily 13-15 years of age. Methods: Analyses were based on the Global School-based Student Health Survey of school-attending youth and supported by the WHO and the CDC. Data from the U.S. were included for comparisons (Youth Risk Behavior Survey). The surveys were conducted between 2003 and 2009 and each of the 23 country datasets included more than 1,000 students and was weighted to be nationally representative. Countries included in the analyses were from Africa, Asia and South America. Analyses examining the prevalence and gender differences were computed using logistic regression analyses separately for each country. Results: The results from these comparisons indicate that the prevalence of past year suicidal ideation varied from 1.15% in Myanmar to 31.47 in Zambia. Gender differences where boys were significantly less likely than girls to report suicide ideation were noted in seven countries: Argentina (OR=0.66; 95%CI:0.46-0.93), Guyana (OR=0.64; 95%CI:0.45-0.89), Lebanon (OR=0.80; 95%CI:0.68-0.94), Morocco OR=0.74; 95%CI:0.56-0.98), Trinidad/Tobago (OR=0.60; 95%CI:0.45-0.82), Uganda (OR=0.73; 95%CI:0.59-0.92) and the U.S. (OR=0.55; 95%CI:0.48-0.64). Conclusions: The prevalence of suicidal ideation varied dramatically across the countries examined. Moreover, gender differences were only observed in 7 of the 23 countries examined, challenging the commonly held belief that girls across the world are more likely to report suicide ideation. More cross-national research is needed on this understudied topic to better understand the context of suicidal ideation and behavior to inform strategies and prevention efforts.

Learning Areas:
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe the prevalence of suicide ideation among youth across 23 countries. 2. List countries where there are differences between boys and girls in reports of suicide ideation. 3. Discuss potential reasons for gender differences in suicide ideation in a global context.

Keywords: Adolescents, International, Suicide

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I'm a professor/epidemiologist trained specifically in psychiatric epidemiology.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.