Suicidal Expression in Adolescents in Nicaragua in Relation to Youth Self-Report (YSR) Syndromes and Exposure to Suicide

Claudia María Obando Medina1, *, Andres Herrera2, Gunnar Kullgren3
1 Centre for Demography and Health Research. Nicaraguan National Autonomous University, León, Nicaragua
2 Centre for Demography and Health Research. Nicaraguan National Autonomous University, León, Nicaragua
3 Department of Clinical Sciences, Division of Psychiatry, Umeå University, Sweden

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© Medina et al.; Licensee Bentham Open.

open-access license: This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Centre for Demography and Health Research, Nicaraguan National Autonomous University, León, Nicaragua; Tel: (505) 2311 - 0368; Fax: (505) 2311 - 0368; E-mail:



Suicide and suicidal expressions among young people represent a major public health problem worldwide. Most studies are from high-income countries, and it remains unclear whether prevalence and risk factors show a similar pattern in other settings. This study aims to assess the prevalence of suicidal expressions and serious suicidal expressions (ideation, plans and attempts) among adolescents in Nicaragua, in relation to previously reported risk factors, such as exposure to suicide in significant others (parents, siblings, partners or friends) and mental health problems.


368 adolescents aged 15-18 years were randomly selected from public secondary schools in León, Nicaragua. Data was collected using Attitude Towards Suicide (ATTS) and Youth Self-Report questionnaires (YSR). Bivariate and multivariate analyses were conducted.


Suicide ideation prevalence in the past year was 22.6%, suicide plans 10.3%, and suicide attempts 6.5%. Girls were significantly more likely to report suicidal ideation. Multivariate analyses showed that anxious/depressed, somatic complaints and exposure to suicidal behavior in significant others were significantly associated with own serious suicidal expressions.


The prevalence of serious suicidal expressions among young people in Nicaragua is within the range reported from Western high-income countries. An attempted or completed suicide in someone close, is associated with own suicidal expressions even in the absence of increased mental distress. Furthermore, somatic complaints should alert health care professionals of the possibility of increased suicide risk.

Key Words: Suicidal expressions, youth self report, nicaragua, school based.