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Suicide attempts among formerly hospitalized adolescents: a prospective naturalistic study of risk during the first 5 years after discharge.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC 27157-1087, USA.



To examine risk for suicide attempts among 180 consecutively referred adolescents during the first 5 years after discharge from an inpatient psychiatry unit.


In a prospective naturalistic study, adolescents were assessed at psychiatric hospitalization and semiannually thereafter for up to 5 years with semistructured psychiatric diagnostic interviews and self-report questionnaires.


Approximately 25% of the adolescents attempted suicide and no adolescents completed suicide within the first 5 years after discharge. The first 6 months to 1 year after discharge represented the period of highest risk. The number of prior attempts was the strongest predictor of posthospitalization attempts. Affective disorders by themselves did not predict later suicide attempts but were related to posthospitalization attempts when accompanied by a history of past suicide attempts. Independent of psychiatric diagnoses, severity of depressive symptoms and trait anxiety also predicted suicide attempts. Similar to the effect with affective disorders, depressive symptoms were most strongly related to posthospitalization suicidality among adolescents with a prior history of suicide attempts.


Particularly among youths with prior suicidal behavior, clinicians should be alert to the above constellation of psychiatric predictors of posthospitalization suicidal behavior.

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