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.