Suicidal Thoughts, Attempts and Motives Among University Students in 12 Muslim-Majority Countries

  • Mehmet EskinEmail author
  • Fadia AlBuhairan
  • Mohsen Rezaeian
  • Ahmed M. Abdel-Khalek
  • Hacer Harlak
  • Mayssah El-Nayal
  • Nargis Asad
  • Aqeel Khan
  • Anwar Mechri
  • Isa Multazam Noor
  • Motasem Hamdan
  • Ulker Isayeva
  • Yousef Khader
  • Alaa Al Sayyari
  • Albaraa Khader
  • Bahareh Behzadi
  • Cennet Şafak Öztürk
  • Laifa Annisa Hendarmin
  • Murad Moosa Khan
  • Salam Khatib
Original Paper


There is a scarcity of research on suicidal phenomena in the Muslim world. Therefore, this study aimed at investigating the self-reported prevalence of suicidal thoughts, attempts and motives in 12 Muslim countries. A total of 8417 (54.4% women) university students were surveyed by means of a self-report questionnaire. Overall, 22% of the participants reported suicidal ideation and 8.6% reported attempting suicide. The odds of suicidal thoughts were elevated in Azerbaijan, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia, while reduced ORs were recorded in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Malaysia. While odds of suicide attempts were high in Azerbaijan, Palestine and Saudi Arabia reduced odds ratios (OR) were detected in Indonesia, Iran, Jordan, Lebanon, Malaysia and Tunisia. Taking drugs and using a sharp instrument were the two most frequently used methods to attempt suicide. Only 32.7% of attempts required medical attention. Escape motives were endorsed more than social motives by participants who attempted suicide. Suicidal behaviors were more frequent in women than in men. Compered to men, fewer attempts by women required medical attention. Moreover, our results show that making suicide illegal does not reduce the frequency of suicidal behavior. Results from this comparative study show that suicidal thoughts and attempts are frequent events in young adults in countries where religious scripture explicitly prohibit suicide and the frequencies of nonfatal suicidal behavior show large variation in nations adhering to the same religion.


Suicide ideation Suicide attempt Suicidal motives Young adults Muslim world 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

There is no conflict of interest for this paper.

Ethical Approval

Ethical or IRB approval was obtained in all study sites (countries). All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Since participation in the study was voluntary and full anonymity was guaranteed informed consent was not obtained from all individual participants. This was written in the first page of the survey.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mehmet Eskin
    • 1
    Email author return OK on get
  • Fadia AlBuhairan
    • 2
    • 3
  • Mohsen Rezaeian
    • 4
  • Ahmed M. Abdel-Khalek
    • 5
  • Hacer Harlak
    • 6
  • Mayssah El-Nayal
    • 7
  • Nargis Asad
    • 8
  • Aqeel Khan
    • 9
  • Anwar Mechri
    • 10
  • Isa Multazam Noor
    • 11
  • Motasem Hamdan
    • 12
  • Ulker Isayeva
    • 13
  • Yousef Khader
    • 14
  • Alaa Al Sayyari
    • 15
  • Albaraa Khader
    • 14
  • Bahareh Behzadi
    • 4
  • Cennet Şafak Öztürk
    • 6
  • Laifa Annisa Hendarmin
    • 16
  • Murad Moosa Khan
    • 8
  • Salam Khatib
    • 17
  1. 1.Department of Psychology, College of Social Sciences and HumanitiesKoc UniversityIstanbulTurkey
  2. 2.Al Dara Hospital and Medical CenterRiyadhSaudi Arabia
  3. 3.Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public HealthBaltimoreUSA
  4. 4.Epidemiology and BiostatisticsRafsanjan Medical SchoolRafsanjanIran
  5. 5.Department of Psychology, Faculty of ArtsAlexandria UniversityAlexandriaEgypt
  6. 6.Department of Psychology, Faculty of Arts and SciencesAdnan Menderes UniversityAydinTurkey
  7. 7.Department of Psychology, Faculty of Human SciencesBeirut Arab UniversityBeirutLebanon
  8. 8.Department of Psychiatry, Medical CollegeAga Khan UniversityKarachiPakistan
  9. 9.Faculty of EducationUniversiti Teknologi MalaysiaJohorMalaysia
  10. 10.Department of PsychiatryUniversity hospital of MonastirMonastirTunisia
  11. 11.Dr Soeharto Heerdjan Mental HospitalJakartaIndonesia
  12. 12.School of Public HealthAl-Quds UniversityJerusalemPalestine
  13. 13.Department of PsychologyKhazar UniversityBakuAzerbaijan
  14. 14.Department of Community Medicine, Public Health and Family Medicine, Faculty of MedicineJordan University of Science & TechnologyIrbidJordan
  15. 15.Population Health Research Section-Hospital-MNGHAKing Abdullah International Medical Research Center / King Saud Bin Abdulaziz University for Health SciencesRiyadhSaudi Arabia
  16. 16.Faculty of MedicineSyarif Hidayatullah State Islamic UniversityJakartaIndonesia
  17. 17.Faculty of Health Professions, Department of NursingAl-Quds UniversityJerusalemPalestine

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