Self-mutilation and suicidal behaviour in Sami and Norwegian adolescents: prevalence and correlates

Article English OPEN
Kvernmo, Siv ; Rosenvinge, Jan H. (2009)
  • Publisher: Co-Action Publishing
  • Journal: International Journal of Circumpolar Health (issn: 1797-237X, eissn: 1239-9736)
  • Related identifiers: doi: 10.3402/ijch.v68i3.18331
  • Subject: Self-mutilation, suicidal behaviour, adolescents, Sami, Indigenous, Norway

Objectives. To study the prevalence and psychosocial and ethnocultural correlates of selfmutilation and/or suicidal behaviour in Indigenous Sami and majority Norwegian adolescents in north Norway. Study design. A cross-sectional questionnaire study. Methods. A total of 487 students, aged 13–16 years in 21 junior high schools and 247 parents participated in this school based questionnaire study conducted in 1990 in Finnmark, the county in Norway with the highest suicide rates. Sociodemographics, substance use, thriving at school, ethnocultural factors such as ethnic context, ethnic identity, ethnic language competence and ethnic parentage, self-reported as well as parent-reported behavioural/emotional problems were assessed. Results. Self-mutilation and/or suicidal attempts within the last 6 months were reported by 12.5% of the adolescents and 14.8% reported having suicidal thoughts. In univariate analyses, significant gender differences occurred for both ethnic groups, with more girls reporting selfmutilation and suicidal behaviour. However, in logistic regression analyses adjusting for all other significant variables, the gender difference disappeared. No significant ethnic differences occurred in prevalence. Although factors associated with self-mutilation and suicidal behaviour varied between Sami and Norwegian adolescents, self-reported anxiety/depression was a strong and significant correlate to both self-mutilation/suicide attempts and suicidal thoughts in both ethnic groups. Parents reported less emotional/behavioural problems associated with self-mutilation and/or suicidal behaviour than the adolescents did. Ethnic identification in Sami and ethnic context in Norwegian adolescents occurred in independent analyses as significantly related to self-mutilation and/or suicidal behaviour, but turned insignificant when adjusting for all other significant variables. Conclusions. In contrast to several other Indigenous groups the prevalence of self-mutilation and/or suicidal behaviour did not differ between Sami and Norwegian adolescents. In both ethnic groups, the effect of ethnocultural factors disappeared when controlled for other variables such as anxiety/depression. Across both ethnic groups, anxiety and depression problems occurred as a common and significant correlate for self-mutilation and suicidal behaviour.(Int J Circumpolar Health 2009; 68(3):235-248)Keywords: Self-mutilation, suicidal behaviour, adolescents, Sami, Indigenous, Norway
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