Ethics. Research. Community.

Facts and myths about suicide: a study of Jewish and Arab students in Israel.

[Record Source: PubMed]
This research investigates the knowledge and myths regarding suicide among students in Israel, and examines whether they are affected by ethnic origin, gender, and religiosity. A random sample of 450 undergraduate students from two colleges was asked to fill out the Suicide Opinion Questionnaire (SOQ). Knowledge was measured by five SOQ items (alpha = 0.57) and myths of suicide by 20 SOQ items (alpha = 0.67). The level of Israeli students' knowledge about suicide is generally good (X = 3.21; SD = 0.58). There are significant differences, however, between the Jewish (n = 266) and Arab (n = 154) students in knowledge about basic facts of suicide in Israel [(X Arabs = 3.04; X Jews = 3.32; t (419, 0.95) = 4.63, p < .001)]. Although both groups share the same educational milieu, the Arab students tend more to believe that suicide rates are higher in Israel, and even more so among people of Asian African origin and minorities. They also perceive suicide by shooting to be the most popular suicide method. There are also significant differences between those groups with respect to their belief in suicide myths [(X Arabs = 2.91; SD = 0.40; X Jews = 3.17, SD = 0.41; t (419, 0.95)= 6.31, p < 0.01)]. Arabs tend more to relate suicide to lower religious affiliation, mental illness and chronic tendency, and to believe that the victim's relatives know nothing about the coming suicide. No significant differences were found based on religiosity or gender. Discussion focuses on the influence of the different cultural characteristics of lifestyle and the social control systems among Jews and Arabs in Israel on perceptions toward suicide.
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