Suicide and deliberate self-harm in Pakistan: A scoping review

Sualeha S. Shekhani, Shagufta Perveen, Dur e.Sameen Hashmi, Khawaja Akbar, Sara Bachani, Murad M. Khan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Suicide is a major global public health problem with more than 800,000 incidents worldwide annually. Seventy-five percent of the global suicides occur in low and middle-income countries (LMICs). Pakistan is a LMIC where information on suicidal behavior is limited. The aim of the review is to map available literature on determinants, risk factors and other variables of suicidal behavior in Pakistan. Method: This study was based on Arksey and O'Malley's methodological framework of scoping review, combining peer reviewed publications with grey literature. Ten databases including Applied Social Sciences Index and Abstracts (ASSIA), Cochrane Trials Register (CRG), Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health (CINAHL), National Library of Medicine Gateway (NLMG), ExcerptaMedica (EMBASE), National Library of Medicine's MEDLINE (PUBMED), PSYCHINFO, Social Science Citation Index and Science Citation Index (SCI) and were searched from the beginning of their time frames until December 2016 using a combination of key terms. The inclusion criteria included studies of various study designs covering different aspects of suicidal behavior in English language. Results: Six hundred and twenty three articles were initially retrieved from all ten databases. Two independent reviewers screened the titles and abstracts for relevance. One hundred and eighteen articles were read in full, out of which 11 were excluded because they did not fit the eligibility criteria. One hundred and ten articles, including two student theses and one report, were included in the final review. Most studies were descriptive in nature, with only three that used a case-control design. Majority of the studies were from urban areas, and addressed determinants rather than risk factors. Gender differences and age were predominantly reported, with more males committing suicide. Suicidal behavior was more common among individuals younger than 30 years of age. The three most common methods for suicides were hanging, poisoning and use of firearms. Mental illness as a risk factor for suicides was mentioned in only three studies. Conclusions: This review is the first attempt to synthesize available literature on suicidal behavior in Pakistan. The evidence is limited, and calls for more robust analytical research designs, along with a focus on risk factors.

Original languageEnglish
Article number44
JournalBMC Psychiatry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 12 Feb 2018


  • Muslim
  • Pakistan
  • Public health
  • Suicidal behavior


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