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J Affect Disord. 2010 Jan;120(1-3):32-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2009.04.008.

Service use among Mexico City adolescents with suicidality.

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  • 1National Institute of Psychiatry, Mexico City, Mexico.



We report the lifetime and 12-month prevalence and associations of mental health treatment among Mexican adolescents with suicide-related outcomes (SROs; including ideation, plans, gestures and attempts).


A representative multistage probability household survey of 3005 adolescents aged 12 to 17 years residing in the Mexico City Metropolitan Area was carried out in 2005. Discrete-time survival analyses were used to assess the relationships between SROs and receiving treatment for emotional, alcohol, or drug problems.


The prevalence of lifetime service use among respondents with SROs was 35% for those with ideation only, 44% for those with ideation and plan, 49% for those with gesture and 50% for those with attempt; the prevalence of 12-month service use was 10%, 24%, 6% and 21%, respectively. Timing between onset of SRO and receiving treatment for emotional, alcohol, or drug problems showed that about 50% of adolescents will have contact with a service provider before developing any SRO. Healthcare professionals were the most likely to be consulted, followed by school-based programs.


This survey was limited to adolescents living in one of the largest metropolitan areas in the world and the analyses used data on retrospectively reported ages of onset that are subject to recall errors.


Most suicidal adolescents do not receive treatment, and many adolescents develop their suicidality in spite of prior contacts with service providers. Interventions to increase treatment, prevention, and monitoring are sorely needed for this vulnerable population.

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