Lay theories of suicide: An examination of culturally-relevant suicide beliefs and attributions



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Journal of Black Psychology


The purpose of this study was to examine African Americans' lay beliefs and attributions toward suicide. The Attitudes Toward Suicide Scale, Life Ownership Orientation Questionnaire, Stigma Questionnaire, and Suicide Ideation Questionnaire were administered to 251 undergraduate college students. Beliefs about stigma associated with suicide were comparable across ethnic groups. However, African American college students were significantly less likely than European American college students were to attribute suicide to interpersonal problems and to report that the individual or government is responsible for life. African American students were significantly more likely to report that God is responsible for life. These findings have important implications for suicide risk and also for developing culturally appropriate interventions.



Lay theory, Suicide, Beliefs, Attributions, African Americans


Copyright 2006 Journal of Black Psychology. This is a post-print version of a published paper that is available at: Recommended citation: Walker, Rheeda L., David Lester, and Sean Joe. "Lay theories of suicide: An examination of culturally relevant suicide beliefs and attributions among African Americans and European Americans." Journal of Black Psychology 32, no. 3 (2006): 320-334. DOI: 10.1177/0095798406290467. This item has been deposited in accordance with publisher copyright and licensing terms and with the author's permission.