Exploring sociodemographic correlates of suicide stigma in Australia: Baseline cross-sectional survey findings from the Life-Span suicide prevention trial studies
Sharwood, L.N., Calear, A.L., Batterham, P.J. Torok, M., McGillivray, L., Rheinberger, D., ... Shand, F.
The risk of suicidal behaviour in Australia varies by age, sex, sexual preference and Indigenous status. Suicide stigma is known to affect suicide rates and help-seeking for suicidal crises. The aim of this study was to investigate the sociodemographic correlates of suicide stigma to assist in prevention efforts. We surveyed community members and individuals who had attended specific emergency departments for suicidal crisis. The respondents were part of a large-scale suicide prevention trial in New South Wales, Australia. The data collected included demographic characteristics, measures of help-seeking and suicide stigma. The linear regression analyses conducted sought to identify the factors associated with suicide stigma. The 5426 participants were predominantly female (71.4%) with a mean (SD) age of 41.7 (14.8) years, and 3.9% were Indigenous. Around one-third of participants reported a previous suicide attempt (n = 1690, 31.5%) with two-thirds (n = 3545, 65.3%) seeking help for suicidal crisis in the past year. Higher stigma scores were associated with Indigenous status (β 0.123, 95%CI 0.074–0.172), male sex (β 0.527, 95%CI 0.375–0.626) and regional residence (β 0.079, 95%CI 0.015–0.143). Lower stigma scores were associated with younger age (β −0.002, 95%CI −0.004–−0.001), mental illness (β −0.095, 95%CI −0.139 to −0.050), male bisexuality (β −0.202, 95%CI −0.351 to −0.052) and males who glorified suicide (β −0.075, 95%CI −0.119 to −0.031). These results suggested that suicide stigma differed across the community, varying significantly by sex, sexual orientation and Indigenous status. Targeted educational programs to address suicide stigma could assist in suicide prevention efforts.