The present paper first presents the attitudes toward suicide and a suicidal classmate among 98 female and 69 male (N = 167) Swedish high school students. Secondly, the Swedish sample was compared with 167 (89 female and 78 male) Turkish high school students from a previous study. Among Swedish students, more males than females said that people have the right to commit suicide and suicide can be a solution to some problems. More females than males expressed a belief in life after death. Swedish adolescents were found to be holding more liberal attitudes toward suicide than Turkish adolescents. However, Turkish adolescents showed greater acceptance for a suicidal peer than Swedish adolescents. The results are discussed in terms of socio-cultural factors and related literature. The need for educational programs to provide basic knowledge about suicide and, effective ways of dealing with and helping suicidal peers is implicated.
BACKGROUND: The prevalence of nonfatal suicidal behavior has been shown to be equal in Swedish and Turkish adolescents, but more Swedish than Turkish adolescents kill themselves. Social attitudes towards self-killing are liberal/permissive in Sweden compared to condemnatory/prohibiting attitudes in Turkey. Against this background, this study investigated Swedish and Turkish adolescents' reactions to a close friend's suicidal disclosure. It also compared students' beliefs about whether or not the suicidal friend needed treatment, and their perceptions of mental illness in, and prognosis for, the suicidal friend. METHOD: A questionnaire was used to assess adolescents' attitudes towards a hypothetical close friend who discloses his/her suicidal plan. RESULTS: Swedish students were more accepting of a suicidal friend, but were also more disapproving of a suicidal disclosure by a close friend, than their Turkish peers. Turkish students, on the other hand, were more emotionally involved with, and took more responsibility for, a suicidal close friend than their Swedish counterparts. CONCLUSIONS: Due to disapproving social attitudes towards suicidal disclosures in Sweden compared to Turkey, persons undergoing suicidal crises in Sweden may choose not to communicate their suicidal intent, and hence can not make use of social support systems to combat personal crises of a suicidal nature.
Among 652 Swedish and 654 Turkish adolescents, the study found that 61 Swedish (9.4%) and 71 Turkish (10.9%) adolescents reported that they had made previous suicide attempts. Previous psychiatric contact, female gender, low perceived family support, and suicide attempts in the family for the Swedish group and suicide attempts in the family, low perceived family support, psychiatric disorder in the family, and previous psychiatric contact variables in the Turkish sample were found to be associated with previous attempts. Low perceived family support, previous suicide attempts, low perceived peer support, female gender, previous psychiatric contact, low positive assertion skills, and a small number of friends for the Swedish; and low perceived family support, previous suicide attempts, low perceived peer support, suicide attempts in the family, and previous psychiatric contact variables for the Turkish group were found to be significant predictors of current suicidal risk.
The Suicide Probability Scale (SPS), the Perceived Social Support (PSS) from Friends (PSS-Fr) and Family (PSS-Fa) scales, and the Scale for Interpersonal Behavior (SIB) were translated into Swedish and their reliability was estimated in a university student sample. The reliability coefficients indicated that both subscales and the total scales of the SPS, PSS, and SIB possess highly adequate reliabilities. The intercorrelations among the subscales and between the subscales and the total scales were found to be highly significant. The results of the study supported the use of SPS, PSS-Fr and PSS-Fa, and the SIB as reliable methods for assessing suicide risk, perceived social support from friends and family, and assertive behavior.