Association of Child Marriage With Suicidal Thoughts and Attempts Among Adolescent Girls in Ethiopia

  • Anastasia Jessica Gage
    Address correspondence to: Anastasia J. Gage, Ph.D., School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, Department of Global Health Systems and Development, 1440 Canal Street, Suite 2200 TB46, New Orleans, LA 70112.
    School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, Department of Global Health Systems and Development, Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana
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      Little information exists on the mental health implications of child marriage in Africa. This study examined the association between child marriage and suicidal ideation and suicide attempt among girls aged 10–17 years.


      Data were drawn from a 2007 cross-sectional survey conducted in the Amhara region, Ethiopia. Multilevel logistic regression was used to analyze risk factors for suicidality.


      Approximately 5.2% of girls reported ever being married, 5.4% were promised in marriage, and 9.3% reported receiving marriage requests. Girls who were ever married (odds ratio [OR] = 1.81; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.03–3.18), were promised in marriage (OR = 2.35; 95% CI = 1.38–4.01) or had received marriage requests (OR = 2.29; 95% CI = 1.46–3.59) were significantly more likely than girls who were never in the marriage process to have had suicidal thoughts in the past 3 months. Residence in communities with high involvement in stopping child marriage was protective of suicidal ideation. The odds of suicide attempt were twice as high among girls with marriage requests as among those with none.


      Child marriage was associated with increased odds of suicidality. Findings call for stronger community engagement in child marriage prevention and mental health support for child brides.


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