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Crisis. 2003;24(4):168-72.

Suicidal behavior in patients diagnosed with cancer of the cervix.

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  • 1Department of Medically Applied Psychology, Nelson R. Mandela School of Medicine, University of Natal, Faculty of Health Sciences, Durban, South Africa.


There is a paucity of literature on suicide and cancer, especially cancer of the cervix. This study reports on suicidal behavior in these patients. The sample consisted of adult, black, Zulu-speaking women from palliative and radical oncology treatment groups who volunteered for the study. There were more patients in the palliative group who were younger, and had a more significant delay between cancer symptom presentation and seeking oncology treatment. Patients experienced: significant depression, anxiety, stress, hopelessness/helplessness, anxious preoccupation about their disease, poor current or delayed social support, feelings of being a burden to their significant others, beliefs that they would be better off dead, perceptions that they were stigmatized by society or that their communities suspected them of being HIV-AIDS positive, and suppressed anger. More patients in the palliative, compared to the radical treatment, group were inclined toward suicidal ideation with serious intent. Overall, most patients coped inadequately with their disease and its management. These patients are a high risk group for suicidal behavior and should be identified in time for appropriate psychological intervention.

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