Perceptions about suicide: a qualitative study from southern India

Natl Med J India. Jul-Aug 2007;20(4):176-9.


Background: Studies from India have reported high rates of suicide. We aimed to understand the social and cultural factors that modulate the risks related to suicide.

Methods: Focus group discussions were conducted with community health workers (1 group) and members of the public (6 groups). In-depth interviews were also conducted with 5 people who had attempted suicide and survived. The interviews were tape-recorded and transcribed verbatim. The results were summarized and analysed using standard procedures.

Results: The most common causes for suicide were interpersonal and family problems, and financial difficulties. Mental illness was also reported as causal. All 5 subjects who had attempted suicide mentioned marital and family discord as the cause. The majority of the general population and all the subjects who had attempted suicide were not aware of any community and support services for the prevention of suicide.

Conclusion: Our study reveals that people perceived suicide as an option to overcome interpersonal, family and financial stress among normal individuals as well as those with mental illness. Healthcare providers should place greater emphasis on educating the general public regarding the policies and services available for suicide prevention.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • India / epidemiology
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders
  • Middle Aged
  • Perception*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Risk Factors
  • Suicide / psychology*
  • Suicide / statistics & numerical data