Year: 2022 Source: BMC Public Health. (2022). 22, 635. SIEC No: 20220367

Suicidal ideation and attempts are one of the most serious mental health problems affecting refugees. Risk factors such as mental disorders, low socio-economic status, and stressful life events all contribute to making refugees a high-risk group. For this reason, this meta-analysis aims to investigate the prevalence of suicidal ideation and attempts among refugees in non-clinical populations.

We searched PubMed, Web of Science, PubPsych, and PsycInfo for articles reporting (period) prevalence rates of suicidal ideation and attempts. Inclusion criteria were the population of refugees or asylum seekers (aged 16 years and older), assessment of the prevalence of suicidal ideation and attempts in empirical studies in cross-sectional or longitudinal settings, written in English, and published by August 2020. Exclusion criteria were defined as a population of immigrants who have lived in the host country for a long time, studies that examined children and adolescents younger than 16 years, and research in clinical samples. Overall prevalence rates were calculated using Rstudio.

Of 294 matches, 11 publications met the inclusion criteria. The overall period prevalence of suicidal ideation was 20.5% (CI: 0.11–0.32, I2 = 98%, n = 8), 22.3% (CI: 0.10–0.38, I2 = 97%, n = 5) for women, and 27.7% for men (CI: 0.14–0.45, I2 = 93%, n = 3). Suicide attempts had an overall prevalence of 0.57% (CI: 0.00–0.02, I2 = 81%, n = 4).

There is a great lack of epidemiological studies on suicidal ideation and attempts among refugees. The high prevalence of suicidal ideation indicates the existence of heavy psychological burden among this population. The prevalence of suicide attempts is similar to that in non-refugee populations. Because of the large heterogeneity between studies, the pooled prevalence estimates must be interpreted with caution. The results underline the need for systematic and standardized assessment and treatment of suicidal ideation and attempts.