Suicidal ideation among MSM in three West African countries: Associations with stigma and social capital

Shauna Stahlman*, Ashley Grosso, Sosthenes Ketende, Vincent Pitche, Seni Kouanda, Nuha Ceesay, Henri G. Ouedraogo, Odette Ky-Zerbo, Marcel Lougue, Daouda Diouf, Simplice Anato, Jules Tchalla, Stefan Baral

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Background: Suicidal ideation is understudied among men who have sex with men (MSM) across Sub-Saharan Africa. Aims: This study aimed to explore social capital and sexual behavior stigma associated with suicidal ideation among MSM in the West African nations of The Gambia, Burkina Faso and Togo. Methods: Participants were recruited using respondent-driven sampling and snowball sampling across multiple cities (n = 1555) from July 2011 to August 2013. During a single study visit, participants completed a survey. Logistic regression models were used to assess bivariate and multivariable associations with suicidal ideation. Results: The prevalence of lifetime suicidal ideation was 13% overall and ranged 6%-17% across study sites. After adjusting for potential confounders, MSM who reported stigma as a result of having sex with men were more likely to report suicidal ideation. Physical and sexual violence was strongly associated with suicidal ideation, including being physically harmed (adjusted odds ratio (aOR) = 2.94, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.91, 4.52), tortured (aOR = 3.86, 95% CI = 2.17, 6.86) and raped (aOR = 3.07, 95% CI = 2.05, 4.60). In contrast, increasing social participation with the broader community was associated with decreased report of suicidal ideation (aOR = 0.91, 95% CI = 0.85, 0.99). Conclusion: Sexual behavior stigma should be addressed to improve mental health among MSM in Western Sub-Saharan Africa.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)522-531
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Social Psychiatry
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Stigma
  • West Africa
  • men who have sex with men
  • social capital
  • suicidal ideation


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