Suicidal behaviour which includes suicidal ideation, having a plan to commit suicide and suicide attempts remains a global public health issue as it substantially impacts adolescent health and wellbeing. Suicidal behaviour, however, remains understudied in Middle Eastern contexts. This study analysed data from the 2016 Global School-based Student Health Survey collected in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). A sample of 5826 adolescents aged between 11 and 18 years were sampled. Potential risk factors associated with an elevated risk for engagement in suicidal behaviour were examined. These factors were stratified into categories for analysis (demographics, psychosocial, risky health, and socio-environmental). The age-adjusted prevalence of suicidal behaviour amongst the school-going adolescent population in the UAE was 54%. Analyses indicated that elevated risk was significantly associated with anxiety difficulties, the experience of loneliness, and amongst those who smoked tobacco. None of the socio-environmental factors emerged as significant. A dose-dependent relationship was evident in that the degree of risk that was evident appeared to compound as the number of adverse risk factors increased. The data suggest that suicidal behaviour may be highly prevalent in this location. Findings highlight the immense need to develop preventative interventions, some of which may be school-delivered and targeted at parents. Our findings provide initial indications as to which risk factors could be targeted for remediation in developing these interventions.
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