Prevalence of suicidal thoughts and attempts among pregnant Pakistani women

Nargis Asad, Rozina Karmaliani, Nasreen Sullaiman, Carla M. Bann, Elizabeth M. McClure, Omrana Pasha, Linda L. Wright, Robert L. Goldenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Citations (Scopus)


Objective. To determine the prevalence of suicidal thoughts and attempts and to identify demographic variables and mental health correlates such as anxiety/depression and domestic violence among pregnant women in an urban community in Pakistan. Design. Cross-sectional data from a prospective cohort study are presented. Setting. Women enrolled in an antenatal care clinic and followed to delivery in an urban area of Pakistan. Population. Cohort of pregnant women in Pakistan. Methods. A total of 1,369 pregnant women were enrolled and interviewed regarding various maternal characteristics and pregnancy outcomes, and were asked specific questions about suicidal thoughts and attempts and administered the Aga Khan University Anxiety Depression Scale at 2026 weeks of gestation. Main outcome measures. Suicidal thoughts and attempts, verbal, sexual or physical abuse. Results. Overall, 148 of the 1,369 (11%) women studied had considered suicide. Of these, 148 women, 67 (45%) had attempted suicide. In all, 18% of the women were classified as having depression/anxiety, almost half (48%) reported experiencing verbal abuse and 20% reported physical/sexual abuse. Women who had anxiety/depression or had experienced verbal or physical/sexual abuse were significantly more likely to have had suicidal thoughts and attempts. Conclusions. Women at the greatest risk for having suicidal thoughts or a suicide attempt were those who were depressed/anxious and had experienced some form of domestic abuse. With the high prevalence of these conditions, attention should be given to the establishment of effective mental health treatment programs for pregnant women.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1545-1551
Number of pages7
JournalActa Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2010


  • Abuse
  • Anxiety/depression
  • Pregnancy
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Suicide attempts


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