Perceived social stigma, self-concealment, and suicide risk among North Korean refugee women exposed to traumatic events

Boyoung Nam, Joon Beom Kim, Wonjung Ryu, Dam I. Kim, Jodi J. Frey, Jordan DeVylder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Suicide among North Korean (NK) refugee women is one of the most concerning public health problems in South Korea. Pre-resettlement trauma exposure and post-resettlement factors can contribute to suicide risk among NK refugee women; however, few studies have explored these associations. Methods: This study aimed to assess suicidal ideation and suicide attempts among NK refugee women in South Korea (N = 212) and to examine the impact of pre-resettlement trauma exposure on suicide risk. Perceived social stigma and self-concealment in the post-resettlement phases were investigated as moderating factors for suicide risk related to trauma exposure using multiple regression analyses. Results: Trauma exposure significantly increased suicidal ideation severity and the risk of suicide attempt. Furthermore, perceived social stigma significantly moderated this relationship such that the impact of trauma exposure in the pre-resettlement phases was amplified as perceived social stigma increased. Conclusion: Based on our study findings, professionals working with refugee populations should assess for perceived social stigma and exposure to traumatic events to reduce and prevent suicidal ideation and attempts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1235-1246
Number of pages12
JournalSuicide and Life-Threatening Behavior
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • moderating effect
  • North Korean refugees
  • self-concealment
  • social stigma
  • suicidal ideation
  • suicide attempt
  • trauma exposure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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