Attempted suicide and suicide of young Turkish women in Europe and Turkey: A systematic literature review of characteristics and precipitating factors

Diana van Bergen*, Ozlem Eylem-van Bergeijk, Amanda Heredia Montesinos

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalReview articleAcademicpeer-review


Background The increased risk of suicidal behaviour among Turkish women living in Europe and Turkey is a serious public health problem. This study compares and synthesises the empirical evidence of demographic, social, psychological and interpersonal characteristics and precipitating factors in the suicides and attempted suicides of Turkish women in Europe and Turkey. Methods We systematically searched eight databases (PsycINFO, PubMed, Med Line, Web of Science, Smart Cat, Safety Lit, BASE and Ulakbim), using search terms in English, Turkish, German and Dutch, as well as the reference lists of the retrieved papers. We extracted data on countries/regions, population characteristics, sample characteristics, recruitment, method of data collection, type of suicidal behaviour (suicide or attempted suicide) and precipitating factors and characteristics. The results were qualitatively synthesised. Results We retrieved nine studies on attempted suicide in Europe (from Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands), 17 studies on attempted suicide in Turkey and 10 studies on suicide in Turkey (36 in total). Overall, we found similar precipitating factors and characteristics of attempted suicide and suicide in Turkey and Europe, including socio-demographic factors (young age and not being enrolled in the labour market), poverty and, to some extent, mental illness. Moreover, conflicts with family or spouses and violence against women, including so-called honour violence, were particularly common for women living in or originating from traditional areas in Turkey. Conclusion The framework of intersectionality is relevant to understanding our results, because structural inequalities in gender roles, gender role expectations as well as power imbalances among socio-economic classes collectively impact the suicidal behaviour of Turkish women. Moreover, the importance of violence against women points to the cultural continuity of the patriarchal and oppressive structures of Europe and Turkey. Suicide prevention efforts should address cultural attitudes underlying violence against women and girls through community education programmes, cultural and gender-sensitive care provision and jurisdiction.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0253274
Pages (from-to)1-26
Number of pages26
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number8
Early online date4 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright: © 2021 van Bergen et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


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