Suicide is a complex, yet preventable public health problem resulting from the interaction of
psychological, social, biological, and environmental factors. There are no published studies
exploring suicidal behavior in the Haitian context, and few studies exploring local socio-cultural
explanatory models of suicide outside of the western milieu.
This study aimed to describe local cultural attitudes and models of suicide amongst healthcare
professionals and community members to better inform future mental health and psychosocial
services in rural Haiti.
Semi-structured in-depth interviews were conducted amongst 24 participants to determine
norms, perceived causal pathways, and attitudes towards suicidal behavior. Participants were
selected through purposive sampling of individuals who either worked as bio-medical health
professionals within the community or were lay community members.
Qualitative data analysis, based in grounded theory, addressed themes
including suicide commonality, veracity of suicidal ideation claims, religious constructs related to
suicide, and perceived causal factors and resources for suicide.
Compared to community members, healthcare professionals were less likely to consider
completed suicide a "common" and important issue. Completed suicide was commonly ascribed
to a "sent spirit" from a Vodou priest. According to community respondents, completed suicides
among women exclusively involved pesticide poisoning, while men chose sharp objects or
hanging as their lethal method. Many suicide narratives identified common causes as strained
love relationships, public shame, and extreme poverty. Respondents' accounts suggest that
religious engagement is an important protective factor as well as a potential
resource and target for future prevention programs.
Suicide appears to have different meanings in the clinical and lay context and this discrepancy
requires further attention. There is an urgent need for additional research if the burden of
suicide-related morbidity and mortality is to be appropriately addressed.
Table of Contents
- Introduction and Rationale
- Purpose Statement
- Research Questions
- Significance Statement
- List of Key Terms
Review of the Literature
- Global Mental Health
- Epidemiology of Suicide
- Suicide Theory
- Culture and Suicide
- Suicide Interventions and Existing Prevention Efforts in LMICS
- Haitian History and Culture
Public Health Recommendations
About this Master's Thesis
|Committee Chair / Thesis Advisor|
|Nou bezwen anpil chita (We will need many chairs): Perceptions of and attitudes towards suicide in rural Haiti ()||2018-08-28||