June 16, 2024
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Study Uncovers Elevated Rates of Suicidal Thoughts and Attempts Among Adolescent Girls in War-Affected Regions of Ukraine

A recent study led by Dr. Sanju Silwal from the University of Turku’s Research Center for Child Psychiatry in Finland, revealed concerning findings regarding the mental health of adolescents exposed to the early phase of the war in Ukraine. The research, published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, highlighted a significant association between wartime traumatic experiences, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, depression, anxiety, and increased suicidal thoughts and attempts among adolescents.

The study was conducted in two distinct regions of Ukraine: Donetsk, which has been affected by war since 2014, and Kirovograd, located in central Ukraine, which has not been directly impacted by the conflict. Dr. Silwal and her team surveyed adolescents aged 11 to 17 years from both regions between September 2016 and January 2017. The participants were asked about their experiences with suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts, and wartime traumatic stressors. A total of 2,752 adolescents took part in the study, with 1,449 from the Donetsk region and 1,303 from Kirovograd.

The findings indicated a significantly higher prevalence of suicidality in the war-affected region of Donetsk (31.7%) compared to the less directly affected region of Kirovograd (18.6%). Notably, girls in the war-affected region reported significantly higher rates of suicidal thoughts (39.3% vs. 19.6%) and suicide attempts (9.5% vs. 5.1%) than their counterparts in the region less affected by war. Boys in the war-affected region also reported more suicidal thoughts (16.9% vs. 9.8%) than boys in the region with less war exposure.

These results underscore the urgent need for mental health support and resources for adolescents living in war-affected regions, particularly girls, to mitigate the negative impact of wartime experiences on their mental wellbeing.

1.  Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
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