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J Adolesc Health. 2007 Mar;40(3):232-7.

Prospective associations between delinquency and suicidal behaviors in a nationally representative sample.

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  • 1Department of Public Health Sciences, Clemson University, Clemson, South Carolina 29634, USA.



We examined the prospective associations between delinquency and suicidal behaviors among adolescents using a nationally representative sample.


The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health was used to assess the prospective associations between delinquency at ages 12-17 years and suicidal behaviors (ideation, attempts, treatment for attempts) 1 and 7 years later.


Controlling for demographic variables, delinquency was prospectively associated with an increased risk for all three suicidal behaviors 1 year later, and to ideations and attempts 7 years later. After controlling for other risk factors (i.e., depression, self-esteem, problem drinking, impulsivity, religiosity), delinquency was still significantly related to an increased likelihood for suicidal ideation 1 and 7 years later, and to suicide attempts 1 year later. Further, delinquency was significantly related to suicidal ideation for girls more than for boys.


These findings suggest that delinquent youth, particularly delinquent girls, should be targeted in interventions to reduce suicidal behaviors.

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