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Marijuana use and repeated attempted suicide among senior high school students in Ghana: Evidence from the WHO Global School-Based Student Health Survey, 2012
  1. John Tetteh1,
  2. George Ekem-Ferguson2,
  3. Swithin Mustapha Swaray3,
  4. Nuworza Kugbey4,
  5. Emmanuel Nii-Boye Quarshie5 and
  6. Alfred Edwin Yawson1
  1. 1 Department of Community Health, University of Ghana Medical School, College of Health Sciences, University of Ghana, Accra, Ghana
  2. 2 Department of Psychiatry, Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, Accra, Greater Accra, Ghana
  3. 3 National Cardiothoracic Centre, Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, Accra, Greater Accra, Ghana
  4. 4 Department of Family and Community Health, School of Public Health, University of Health and Allied Sciences, Hohoe, Volta Region, Ghana
  5. 5 Department of Psychology, School of Social Sciences, University of Ghana College of Humanities, Accra, Greater Accra, Ghana
  1. Correspondence to John Tetteh; bigjayasamoah{at}


Background The association between substance use including marijuana use and attempted suicide has been well documented. However, little is known about marijuana use and its association with attempted suicide repetition among young people in low-income and middle-income contexts.

Aims This analysis was conducted to assess the factors associated with marijuana use and ascertain marijuana use as a determinant of repeated attempted suicide among senior high school (SHS) students in Ghana.

Methods Data from the 2012 Global School-Based Student Health Survey in Ghana was used for this study. Modified Poisson, Logistic and Probit models weighted with Mahalanobis distance matching within propensity calliper were employed separately to determine the hypothetical association between marijuana use and repeated attempted suicide. All analysis was performed using Stata 16 and p≤0.05 was deemed statistically significant.

Results The prevalence estimates of marijuana use and repeated attempted suicide among SHS students in Ghana were 3.4% (95% CI: 2.3 to 5.1) and 11.5% (95% CI: 9.1 to 14.4), respectively. The prevalence of marijuana use was significantly associated with school grade, smoking exposure, parent smoker, alcohol intake and truancy. Marijuana use was positively associated with repeated attempted suicide among SHS in Ghana (φ correlation=0.23, p<0.001). Repeated attempted suicide among students who use marijuana was approximately threefold and fivefold significant compared with non-marijuana use students, based on the Poisson (adjusted prevalence ratio: 3.02; 95% CI: 1.67 to 5.43, p<0.001) and Logistic (adjusted OR:5.06; 95% CI: 3.19 to 11.64, p<0.001) estimates respectively. Also, the Probit model showed that marijuana use significantly increased the log count of repeated attempted suicide by 95% (aβ: 0.95; 95% CI: 0.49 to 1.41, p<0.001).

Conclusion Marijuana use does not only influence the onset of suicidal attempts but also repeated attempted suicide among SHS students in Ghana. Special attention is required for suicide attempters with a history of repeated attempts and current marijuana use among SHS students in Ghana. Early identification of the potential risk and protective factors is recommended to inform school-based interventions. National level structured school-based substance abuse interventions and health promotion programmes would be useful.

  • psychiatry
  • public health surveillance
  • mental health services

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  • Contributors JT, GE-F and AEY developed the concept. JT analysed the data. JT, GE-F, SMS, NK, EN-BQ and AEY contributed to writing the first draft manuscript. All the authors reviewed the final version of the manuscript before submission.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval The Ghana SHS GSHS ethical approval was obtained from the Institutional Review Board at Middle Tennessee State University. The reference number for Ghana GSHS was GHA_2012_GSHS_v01.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement Data are available in a public, open access repository. Dataset downloaded from free online.

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