Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology

, Volume 41, Issue 9, pp 692–697 | Cite as

Suicidal expressions among young people in Nicaragua

A community-based study
  • Andrés Herrera Rodríguez
  • Trinidad Caldera
  • Gunnar Kullgren
  • Ellinor Salander Renberg



Suicidal behaviour is a major public health problem among adolescents. In Nicaragua as well as in most other countries, young people aged 15–24 have the highest rate of attempted suicide according to hospital records. The aims of this study were to investigate self-reported life-weariness, death wishes, suicidal ideation, suicidal plans and suicide attempts (i.e. suicidal expressions) among young men and women in the community and to identify factors associated with suicidal expressions.


The sample was derived from an established study base in the city of León, Nicaragua. From 352 randomly selected subjects aged 15–24 years, 278 individuals (145 males and 133 females) were interviewed using the Attitudes Towards Suicide (ATTS) questionnaire, including questions on suicidal expressions.


The overall 1-year prevalence of any suicidal expression was 44.8% among males and 47.4% among females. A suicide attempt in the past year was reported by 2.1% of males and 1.5% of females. There was no significant gender difference in reporting of the separate types of suicidal expressions, except for death wishes, where females reported higher prevalence (33.8% vs. 20.7%). Exposure to suicidal expressions among significant others was significantly associated with own serious suicidal expressions. The study failed to identify any association between suicidal expressions and sociodemographic factors such as poverty or educational level.


The present study highlights that suicidal behaviour is a significant public health problem among young people in Nicaragua. The finding that suicidal behaviour among significant others appears to have a contagious effect on adolescents, needs to be addressed in the prevention of suicidal behaviour.

Key words

suicidal expressions adolescents sociodemographic conditions gender Nicaragua 



This study was funded by the Swedish Agency for Research Co-operation SIDA/SAREC. We want to express our gratitude to psychologists Claudia Obando and Ever Tellez for their contributions during the fieldwork. In addition, we would like to thank Rodolfo Pëna, head of the Demographic Health Surveillance System and Julio Rocha, who co-ordinated the referral process for cases in need of treatment.


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Copyright information

© Steinkopff Verlag Darmstadt 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrés Herrera Rodríguez
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Trinidad Caldera
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Gunnar Kullgren
    • 4
  • Ellinor Salander Renberg
    • 4
  1. 1.Dept. of Preventive Medicine and Public HealthLeón UniversityLeónNicaragua
  2. 2.Dept. of Mental HealthLeón UniversityLeónNicaragua
  3. 3.Centre for Demographic and Health ResearchLeónNicaragua
  4. 4.Dept. of Clinical Sciences, Division of Psychiatry, WHO Collaborating CentreUmeå UniversityUmeåSweden

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