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Transcultural issues about death fantasies and beliefs


The aim of the research was to explore what kind of beliefs and fantasies about death and dying exist in suicide attempters in a Greek group of patients and whether there are differences or similarities with attempters of other cultural origin /background.

Materials and methods

Our data comes from 32 interviews occurring during a one-year period with Greek patients who were seen within 24 hours of a suicide attempt and after admission at the casualty department of a Greek general hospital. At the end of the assessment the patient was asked to give a suicidal fantasy and speak about his thoughts and believes around death.


A suicidal fantasy always included a dyadic relationship between a part of the self which will survive (“surviving self”) and the body, which was identified with a part of the self which had to be killed (“destruction of the body”).

Suicidal fantasies took four forms: revenge, self-punishment, merging and elimination - annihilation fantasies.


Transcultural issues about death fantasies and beliefs of suicide attempters are discussed.

It is suggested that exploration of a suicidal fantasy and the cultural elements which are involved can play a significant role in gaining a better understanding of the psychological conflicts of the attempters and can be used in the psychotherapeutic treatment which usually follows.


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Open Access This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Ierodiakonou - Benou, I., Kaprinis, S., Sokolaki, S. et al. Transcultural issues about death fantasies and beliefs. Ann Gen Psychiatry 7 (Suppl 1), S174 (2008).

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