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Suicide Life Threat Behav. 2010 Oct;40(5):451-64. doi: 10.1521/suli.2010.40.5.451.

Sex differences in developmental trends of suicide ideation, plans, and attempts among European American adolescents.

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Prevention Research Center at Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287, USA.


Although suicide ideation, plans, and attempts increase during adolescence, it remains unclear whether boys' and girls' risk for these outcomes peaks at different ages. We used longitudinal categorical data (never, once, 2+ times) from the Family Transitions Project (N = 1,248 rural European Americans, ages 11-19) to investigate whether yearly prevalence rates of adolescent suicidal episodes follow different patterns by sex. Multiple-group growth models revealed that peak levels of past-year ideation and plans occurred during mid adolescence for girls, but slowly increased through late adolescence for boys. We found that prevalence patterns for attempts were very similar for boys and girls, with both increasing through mid adolescence and then declining, although girls' risk declined slightly more rapidly. This information may help alert gatekeepers to developmental periods during which boys and girls are particularly vulnerable to suicide-related experiences, and also may help inform the timing of preventive efforts.

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