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Suicidal behaviour in postnatal mothers in northwestern Ethiopia: a cross-sectional study
  1. Habte Belete1,
  2. Eyaya Misgan2
  1. 1 Psychiatry, College of Medical and Health Sciences, Bahir Dar University, Bahir Dar, Ethiopia
  2. 2 Gynecology and Obstetrics, College of Medical and Health Sciences, Bahir Dar University, Bahir Dar, Ethiopia
  1. Correspondence to Habte Belete; habte.belete{at}


Aim To assess the prevalence and associated factors of suicidal behaviour (suicidal ideation, plan or suicide attempt) in postpartum mothers.

Method An institutional cross-sectional study was employed from March to April 2017.

Setting Two primary health centres and one referral hospital in northwestern Ethiopia.

Participants A total of 1065 mothers aged ≥18 years during routine postnatal care were included and 988 of them completed the study. Those who were unable to communicate due to illness were not included.

Outcome measure Mothers who visit for routine postnatal care were assessed for suicidal behaviour using a suicidal screening tool. Logistic analysis was employed with adjusted OR (AOR) and 95% CI, and with p value less than 0.05 as the level of significance.

Results The prevalence of suicidal behaviour (suicidal ideation, plan or suicide attempt) was found at 14.0% (138/988) (95% CI 12.00 to 16.00) in postpartum mothers. Poor wealth of the mother (AOR=2.80, 95% CI 1.18 to 6.84), unplanned pregnancy of the current child (AOR=2.28, 95% CI 1.48 to 3.54), history of rape (AOR=2.26, 95% CI 1.42 to 3.61) and sickness of the new child (AOR=1.68, 95% CI 1.12 to 2.52) were significantly associated with suicidal behaviours.

Conclusion Suicidal behaviour was found pretty high among postpartum mothers and was associated with poor wealth, unplanned pregnancy, history of rape and sickness of the new infant. It is recommended to screen mothers for possible suicidal behaviour during routine postnatal care.

  • Suicidal behavior
  • Mental health
  • Postpartum care
  • Low-income
  • Ethiopia

This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited, appropriate credit is given, any changes made indicated, and the use is non-commercial. See:

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  • Contributors HB designed the study, performed the statistical analyses and drafted the manuscript. EM worked on the development of the research concept, design, manuscript and analysis.

  • Funding Both authors had financial support from Bahir Dar University for the submitted work.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval Ethical clearance was obtained from the Ethical Review Committee of the College of Medicine and Health Sciences, Bahir Dar University. Formal permission letter was taken from the administration of the hospital and health centres. Written consent was taken from the participants. Data were collected in a secure place by female nurses. All participants who had suicidal behaviour were linked with the psychiatric clinic.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement All data relevant to the study are included in the article.

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