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J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2004 Sep;43(9):1124-33.

Teenagers' attitudes about coping strategies and help-seeking behavior for suicidality.

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  • 1Division of Child Psychiatry, Department of Epidemiology, New York State Psychiatric Institute, Columbia University, NY 10032, USA.



To identify youths' attitudes about coping and help-seeking strategies for suicidal ideation/behavior and examine their demographic and clinical correlates.


A self-report survey was completed by high school students (N = 2,419) in six New York State schools from 1998 through 2001. The relationship between suicide attitudes and gender, depression, substance problems, serious suicidal ideation/behavior, and first-hand experience with a suicidal peer was examined.


Two factors that approximate avoidance and approach coping responses, maladaptive coping strategies and help-seeking strategies, respectively, were identified. Boys scored higher than girls (t = 7.96, df = 2341, p < .001), and depressed youths (t = 15.56, df = 2323, p < .001), students with substance problems (t = 11.07, df = 2340, p < .001), and suicidal youths (t = 15.14, df = 2341, p < .001) scored significantly higher than their healthy counterparts on the maladaptive coping strategies factor. Students with first-hand experience with a suicidal peer scored significantly higher on the maladaptive coping strategies factor than those without this experience (t = 7.95, df = 2321, p < .001). Lower risk groups scored significantly higher on an adaptive help-seeking strategies factor.


High-risk adolescents' attitudes are characterized by core beliefs that support the use of maladaptive coping strategies in response to depression and suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Targeting such attitudes is a recommended component of youth suicide prevention efforts.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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