Year: 2020 Source: Archives of Suicide Research. (2020). 24(3), 415-434. DOI: 10.1080/13811118.2019.1624668 SIEC No: 20200937

There is evidence for cultural differences in mental health symptoms and help-seeking, but no past research has explored cultural differences in how people react to suicidal ideation communicated by others. Layperson reactions are critical, because the majority of people who experience suicidal ideation disclose to friends or family. Participants were 506 people aged 17-65 recruited from Australia and Korea who completed an experiment in which they responded to a friend who was experiencing either subclinical distress or suicidal ideation. Korean participants did not differentiate between the subclinical and suicidal targets, whereas Australian participants showed more concern for the suicidal target. For both targets, Korean participants were more likely to recommend passive coping strategies (“Time will solve everything” or “Cheer up”), while Australian participants were more likely to recommend active coping strategies (“Let’s talk” or “See a doctor”). This study provides the first evidence of cultural differences in the way people typically respond to disclosures of suicidal ideation, and suggests that unhelpful and inappropriate recommendations are commonplace.