Suicide behaviour among Guyanese orphans: Identification of suicide risk and protective factors in a low- to middle- income country

Ellen-ge D. Denton, George J. Musa & Christina Hoven - Journal of Child and Adolescent Mental Health


Objective: Suicide is the leading cause of death among youth in Guyana, a low- and middle-income country (LMIC), which globally ranks first in female adolescent suicides over the last decade. Worldwide, Guyana has experienced the largest increase in youth suicide, despite focused public health efforts to reduce suicide. Further, youth in Guyana, who are clients of the orphanage system and have faced early childhood trauma, may have an additive risk for suicide. Guided by an ideation-to-action theoretical framework for suicide prevention, the goal of the proposed research study is to describe and identify risk and protective factor correlates of youth suicidal behaviour among those at highest risk for suicide – orphans who reside in a LMIC institutional setting. Methods: In a preliminary sample of 25 orphan youth, one licensed psychologist and two social workers administered the DSM-5 Level 1 Cross-Cutting Symptom Measure and Behavioural Assessment Schedule for Children, 2nd Edition (BASC-2) during a semi-structured interview. Results: Nine of the 25 (36%) orphans reported a previous suicide attempt. Youth who endorsed suicidal behaviour had clinically elevated interpersonal relations scale scores when compared to youth who did not. Conclusions: Interpersonal skills may be protective for youth at highest risk for suicide.