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Psychiatr Serv. 1996 May;47(5):517-21.

Suicide among immigrants from the Indian subcontinent: a review.

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Department of Psychiatry, Boston University Medical Center Hospital, Massachusetts, USA.



Studies of suicide among immigrants from the Indian subcontinent (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka) were examined to increase awareness of suicide risk and to better understand social and psychological factors contributing to suicide in this group.


An online search was conducted of MEDLINE for the years 1966 to 1994 and Psychological Abstracts for the years 1974 to 1994, and all references on completed suicides in the target population were selected for review.


Suicide rates of young women immigrants from the Indian subcontinent are consistently higher than those of their male counterparts and of young women in the indigenous populations of the countries to which they immigrate. Suicide rates among older men in this immigrant group have been reported to be low, although reports are less consistent. Use of violent methods such as hanging, burning, and poisoning is common among both men and women. A disproportionately higher number of immigrant Hindus commit suicide. Family conflict appears to be a precipitating factor in many suicides, whereas mental illness is rarely cited as a cause. Depression, anxiety, and domestic violence may contribute to the high rates. Affective disorders may be underdiagnosed in this population.


More research is needed on the epidemiology of psychiatric illnesses and their contribution to suicide in this group.

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