Author's School

Brown School

Author's Department

Social Work


English (en)

Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Chair and Committee

Sean Joe

Committee Members

Mary McKay, Fred Ssewamala, Lateef Husain, Emmanuel Quarshie,


Suicide is a serious public health issue with more deaths worldwide than malaria, and HIV/AIDS in 2019, according to the World Health Organization. Almost nine out of 10 adolescents who died by suicide in 2019 were from low- and middle-income countries. In Ghana non-fatal suicide rates are higher among middle school and high school students yet the data we have is about a decade old. Using a sample of 800 middle school students in the Greater Accra Region and applying a theoretical-driven analytic approach, this dissertation seeks to understand the prevalence, sociocultural correlates, risk, and protective factors of adolescent suicidal behavior. Paper based surveys, which have self-reported measures on suicide ideation, plan and attempt as well as correlates of suicide, were administered to a sample (n=800) of middle school students in the Greater Accra region of Ghana. Structural Equation Modelling was performed using Mplus to test the applicability of the Interpersonal-Psychological Theory of Suicide Behavior (IPTSB) to suicide behavior among the sample. Chi-square, Pearson correlation and other analyses were performed to ascertain frequencies and percentages of variables. The study found high lifetime prevalence of suicide ideation, plan and attempts among the sample. The IPTSB significantly explained suicidal behaviors among middle school students in the Greater Accra region of Ghana. The study found that thwarted belongingness and perceived burdensomeness was significantly associated with increased suicide ideation. In addition, the study found that the inclusion of religiosity, traditional beliefs, and stigma into the IPTSB provides a more robust explanation of how suicide attempts is occurring in the population. This is the first theoretically grounded study on suicide behavior that tests the IPTSB among adolescents in Ghana. It sets the stage for an African Centered Enhanced theoretical model of suicidal behavior as it incorporates the contextual factors that were missing in the IPTSB. In terms of research, policy and practice, this study sets the tone for future qualitative and nationally representative studies on the cultural specific correlates of non-fatal suicide behaviors among Ghanaian adolescents. This study provides new information for Ghanaian policy makers who are interested in setting the right policies and interventions that may work to reduce suicide behavior in this young population.

Available for download on Tuesday, December 31, 2024