Prevalence and prevention of suicidal ideation among asylum seekers in a high-risk urban post-displacement setting

A. Aizik-Reebs, K. Yuval, Y. Beyene Kesete, I. Lurie, A. Bernstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

AIMS: Among asylum seekers in a high-risk unstable post-displacement context, we aimed to investigate the prevalence of and risk for suicidal ideation (study 1), and then to test whether and how Mindfulness-Based Trauma Recovery for Refugees (MBTR-R) may prevent or treat suicidal ideation (study 2). METHODS: Study 1 was conducted among a community sample of N = 355 (31.8% female) East African asylum seekers in a high-risk urban post-displacement setting in the Middle East (Israel). Study 2 was a secondary analysis of a randomised waitlist-control trial of MBTR-R among 158 asylum-seekers (46.2% female) from the same community and post-displacement setting. RESULTS: Prevalence of suicidal ideation was elevated (31%). Post-migration living difficulties, as well as posttraumatic stress, depression, anxiety and their multi-morbidity were strongly associated with suicidal ideation severity. Likewise, depression and multi-morbidity prospectively predicted the onset of suicidal ideation. Relative to its incidence among waitlist-control (23.1%), MBTR-R prevented the onset of suicidal ideation at post-intervention assessment (15.6%) and 5-week follow-up (9.8%). Preventive effects of MBTR-R on suicidal ideation were mediated by reduced posttraumatic stress, depression, anxiety and their multi-morbidity. MBTR-R did not therapeutically reduce current suicidal ideation present at the beginning of the intervention. CONCLUSIONS: Findings warn of a public health crisis of suicidality among forcibly displaced people in high-risk post-displacement settings. Although preliminary, novel randomised waitlist-control evidence for preventive effects of MBTR-R for suicidal ideation is promising. Together, findings indicate the need for scientific, applied and policy attention to mental health post-displacement in order to prevent suicide among forcibly displaced people.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e76
JournalEpidemiology and Psychiatric Sciences
Volume31
DOIs
StatePublished - 17 Oct 2022

Keywords

  • Asylum seekers
  • depression
  • forced displacement
  • mindfulness
  • refugees
  • suicidal ideation
  • suicidality
  • trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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