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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter September 4, 2013

Suicidal behavior in Indian adolescents

  • Diana Samuel EMAIL logo and Leo Sher


Suicide is both a public and mental health problem, and is a leading cause of deaths, especially among adolescents. Two factors that contribute to the decision of adolescents to commit suicide are having a primary mood disorder and/or substance use. In the Indian culture, the family unit has both a positive and negative impact on suicide. The family serves as a protective factor that provides a strong support for the individual, but alternately creates an inseparable individual when seeking mental health care, which often complicates the situation. Due to the stigma, Indians typically perceive having a mental illness as shameful. Religion is integral to the Indian culture so much so that individuals often use herbal remedies, seek help from religious leaders, and attend religious establishments prior to obtaining a mental health evaluation in those that are subsequently deemed as mentally ill. Despite the fact that suicides are underreported and misdiagnosed in India, it is known that the highest rates are among those <30 years old. The methods most commonly used to commit suicide in India include the ingestion of poison (often pesticides), hanging, burning, and drowning. When immigrating, Indians tend to switch the methods they use to commit suicide from ingestion of poison to hanging, which may reflect a lack of available poisonous substances or the influence of the host culture. Considering the high suicide rates in adolescents, the importance of providing psychoeducation, restricting access to lethal means, and promoting social integration in immigrants are various ways by which suicides in Indian adolescents can be avoided.

Corresponding author: Diana Samuel, MD, Department of Psychiatry, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Box 1230, One Gustave L. Levy Place, New York, NY 10029, USA


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Received: 2012-7-4
Accepted: 2012-8-15
Published Online: 2013-09-04
Published in Print: 2013-09-01

©2013 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin Boston

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