Cultural Differences in Reactions to Suicidal Ideation: A Mixed Methods Comparison of Korea and Australia

Soontae An, Tegan Cruwys, Hannah Lee, Melissa Xue Ling Chang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


There is evidence for cultural differences in mental health symptoms and help-seeking, but no past research has explored cultural differences in how people react to suicidal ideation communicated by others. Layperson reactions are critical, because the majority of people who experience suicidal ideation disclose to friends or family. Participants were 506 people aged 17–65 recruited from Australia and Korea who completed an experiment in which they responded to a friend who was experiencing either subclinical distress or suicidal ideation. Korean participants did not differentiate between the subclinical and suicidal targets, whereas Australian participants showed more concern for the suicidal target. For both targets, Korean participants were more likely to recommend passive coping strategies (“Time will solve everything” or “Cheer up”), while Australian participants were more likely to recommend active coping strategies (“Let’s talk” or “See a doctor”). This study provides the first evidence of cultural differences in the way people typically respond to disclosures of suicidal ideation, and suggests that unhelpful and inappropriate recommendations are commonplace.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)415-434
Number of pages20
JournalArchives of Suicide Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2 Jul 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Crown Copyright in the Commonwealth of Australia. Published by Taylor & Francis on behalf of International Academy for Suicide Research.


  • coping strategies
  • depression
  • help seeking
  • mental health
  • social support


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