Suicidal behaviour as communication in a cultural context: A comparative study between Uganda and Norway

Publication Date: 
Monday, February 18, 2008
Hjelmeland H, Knizek BL, Kinyanda E, Musisi S, Nordvik H, Svarva K

In this study, we attempt to even out some of the imbalance in suicide research caused by the fact that most such research has been conducted in the Western part of the world with the corresponding common disregard of the potential problems in generalizing findings to different cultural settings. Our point of departure was to look at suicidal behavior as communication and our main purpose was to investigate whether Qvortrup's semiotic four-factor model, which has been empirically supported in the West, would be applicable in an African context, exemplified by Uganda. Interviews of patients admitted to hospital following an act of nonfatal suicidal behavior were conducted in Uganda and Norway and the data were compared. The results showed that the four-factor structure found in the West was not applicable in the Ugandan context, but that two by two of these factors were collapsed into a two-factor model in Uganda: One factor regarding the external dialog and one factor regarding the internal dialog. Some differences and some similarities were found between Norway and Uganda when suicidal behavior was considered as a communicative act. The results are discussed in terms of the differences in the psychological characteristics of the suicidal persons in the two countries, as well as the different cultural settings of the study.

Publisher: 
Crisis: The Journal of Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention
MRC/UVRI Authors: