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Original Research

Common and Country-Specific Characteristics Associated With Suicidality in the Arab Region

Sariah Daouk, MAa; Rania Awaad, MDb; Bilal Ahmed, BAc; Suzanne Barakat, MDd; Ricardo F. Muñoz, PhDa,e; and Yan Leykin, PhDa,e,*

Published: December 22, 2020

Article Abstract

Objective: To explore the prevalence of recent (previous 2 weeks) suicide attempts and estimates of likelihood of future suicide attempts as well as demographic characteristics associated with such attempts among residents of the Arab region looking for depression information online.

Methods: Google Ads were used to recruit 1,003 Arabic-speaking adults mostly from February 2014 to June 2014 to take part in a depression and suicidality screening study using a self-report questionnaire based on DSM-IV diagnostic criteria.

Results: Of the eligible participants (N = 900), 10.6% reported a suicide attempt in the previous 2 weeks, and 16.1% indicated a likelihood of making a suicide attempt in the following month. Men, those declining to state their sexual orientation, those from lower subjective social status (SSS), and unemployed individuals had higher odds of reporting a past suicide attempt (P = .001, P = .002, P < .001, P = .023, respectively). Younger individuals, those less religious, those with past suicide attempt, and those with lower SSS had higher odds of a likelihood of a future suicide attempt (P = .03, P = .02, P < .001, P = .001, respectively). Comparing the 4 countries with highest number of participants (Algeria, n = 148, Egypt, n = 260, Morocco, n = 118, and Saudi Arabia, n = 99), lower SSS was associated with higher odds of an attempt for Algeria, Morocco, and Saudi Arabia, but not for Egypt (P = .002). Lower religiosity was related to higher odds of estimates of future suicide for Algeria, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia, but not for Morocco (P = .014).

Conclusions: Suicidality among residents of Arab-speaking countries warrants further exploration. Common predictors of risk may be less relevant for some populations.

Volume: 82

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