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Gender differences in suicide attempts from adolescence to young adulthood.

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Oregon Research Institute, 1715 Franklin Blvd., Eugene, OR 97403-1983, USA.



To examine associations of age, gender, and psychosocial factors during adolescence with risk of suicide attempt between ages 19 and 23 years.


Initial assessments were conducted with 1,709 adolescents (aged 14-18) in western Oregon between 1987 and 1989. One year later, 1,507 participants returned for a second assessment. A subset of participants (n = 941; 57.2% women) had a third diagnostic assessment after turning 24 (between 1993 and 1999). Information on suicidal behavior, psychosocial risk factors, and lifetime DSM-III-R psychiatric diagnosis was collected at each assessment.


The suicide attempt hazard rate for female adolescents was significantly higher than for male adolescents (Wilcoxon chi 2(1)[n = 941] = 12.69, p < .001). By age 19, the attempt hazard rate for female adolescents dropped to a level comparable with that of male adolescents. Disappearance of the gender difference for suicide attempts by young adulthood was not paralleled by a decrease in the gender difference for major depression. Adolescent suicidal behavior predicted suicide attempt during young adulthood for female, but not male, participants. Adolescent psychosocial risk factors for suicide attempt during young adulthood were identified separately for girls and boys.


Unlike depression, the elevated incidence rate of suicide attempts by adolescent girls is not maintained into young adulthood. Screening and prevention implications are discussed.

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