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    Suicidal behavior risks during adolescent pregnancy in a low-resource setting: A qualitative study

    Spradley, Frank T. and Musyimi, Christine W. and Mutiso, Victoria N. and Nyamai, Darius N. and Ebuenyi, Ikenna and Ndetei, David M. (2020) Suicidal behavior risks during adolescent pregnancy in a low-resource setting: A qualitative study. PLoS ONE, 15 (7). e0236269. ISSN 1932-6203

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    Background: Suicide is one of the most common causes of death among female adolescents. A greater risk is seen among adolescent mothers who become pregnant outside marriage and consider suicide as the solution to unresolved problems. We aimed to investigate the factors associated with suicidal behavior among adolescent pregnant mothers in Kenya. Methods: A total of 27 Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) and 8 Key Informant Interviews (KIIs) were conducted in a rural setting (Makueni County) in Kenya. The study participants consisted of formal health care workers and informal health care providers (traditional birth attendants and community health workers), adolescent and adult pregnant and post-natal (up to six weeks post-delivery) women including first-time adolescent mothers, and caregivers (husbands and/or mothers-in-law of pregnant women) and local key opinion leaders. The qualitative data was analyzed using Qualitative Solution for Research (QSR) NVivo version 10. Results: Five themes associated with suicidal behavior risk among adolescent mothers emerged from this study. These included: (i) poverty, (ii) intimate partner violence (IPV), (iii) family rejection, (iv) social isolation and stigma from the community, and (v) chronic physical illnesses. Low economic status was associated with hopelessness and suicidal ideation. IPV was related to drug abuse (especially alcohol) by the male partner, predisposing the adolescent mothers to suicidal ideation. Rejection by parents and isolation by peers at school; and diagnosis of a chronic illness such as HIV/AIDS were other contributing factors to suicidal behavior in adolescent mothers. Conclusion: Improved social relations, economic and health circumstances of adolescent mothers can lead to reduction of suicidal behaviour. Therefore, concerted efforts by stakeholders including family members, community leaders, health care workers and policy makers should explore ways of addressing IPV, economic empowerment and access to youth friendly health care centers for chronic physical illnesses. Prevention strategies should include monitoring for suicidal behavior risks during pregnancy in both community and health care settings. Additionally, utilizing lay workers in conducting dialogue discussions and early screening could address some of the risk factors and reduce pregnancy- related suicide mortality in LMICs.

    Item Type: Article
    Additional Information: : © 2020 Musyimi et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Cite as: Musyimi CW, Mutiso VN, Nyamai DN, Ebuenyi I, Ndetei DM (2020) Suicidal behavior risks during adolescent pregnancy in a low-resource setting: A qualitative study. PLoS ONE 15(7): e0236269.
    Keywords: Suicidal behavior risks; adolescent pregnancy; low-resource setting; female adolescents; Kenya;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Science and Engineering > Psychology
    Item ID: 15301
    Identification Number:
    Depositing User: Ikenna Ebuenyi
    Date Deposited: 21 Jan 2022 16:37
    Journal or Publication Title: PLoS ONE
    Publisher: Public Library of Science
    Refereed: Yes
    Use Licence: This item is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike Licence (CC BY-NC-SA). Details of this licence are available here

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