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J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2018 Apr;57(4):263-273.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.jaac.2018.01.018. Epub 2018 Feb 13.

Suicidal Thoughts and Behaviors Among First-Year College Students: Results From the WMH-ICS Project.

Author information

1
Research Group Psychiatry, KU Leuven University, Leuven, Belgium. Electronic address: philippe.mortier@upckuleuven.be.
2
Harvard Medical School, Boston, and the Center for Depression, Anxiety and Stress Research, McLean Hospital, Belmont, MA.
3
Health Services Research Unit, Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute (IMIM), Barcelona, Spain; Pompeu Fabra University (UPF), Barcelona, Spain; and CIBER en Epidemiología y Salud Pública (CIBERESP), Madrid, Spain.
4
Stellenbosch University, South Africa.
5
National Institute of Psychiatry Ramón de la Fuente Muñiz, Mexico City, Mexico.
6
Amsterdam Public Health Research Institute, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
7
Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen Nuremberg, Erlangen, Germany.
8
School of Education, Boston University, Boston, MA.
9
School of Psychology, Curtin University, Perth, Australia.
10
Harvard University, Cambridge, MA.
11
School of Biomedical Sciences, Ulster University, Derry-Londonderry, Northern, Ireland.
12
Harvard Medical School, Boston, and McLean Hospital, Belmont, MA.
13
Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA.
14
Universitair Psychiatrisch Centrum - Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (UPC-KUL), Campus Gasthuisberg, Leuven, Belgium.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

College entrance may be a strategically well-placed "point of capture" for detecting late adolescents with suicidal thoughts and behaviors (STB). However, a clear epidemiological picture of STB among incoming college students is lacking. We present the first cross-national data on prevalence as well as socio-demographic and college-related correlates for STB among first-year college students.

METHOD:

Web-based self-report surveys were obtained from 13,984 first-year students (response rate 45.5%) across 19 colleges in 8 countries (Australia, Belgium, Germany, Mexico, Northern Ireland, South Africa, Spain, and the United States).

RESULTS:

Lifetime prevalence of suicidal ideation, plans, and attempts was 32.7%, 17.5%, and 4.3%, respectively. The 12-month prevalence was 17.2%, 8.8%, and 1.0%, respectively. About three-fourths of STB cases had onset before the age of 16 years (Q3 = 15.8), with persistence figures in the range of 41% to 53%. About one-half (53.4%) of lifetime ideators transitioned to a suicide plan; 22.1% of lifetime planners transitioned to an attempt. Attempts among lifetime ideators without plan were less frequent (3.1%). Significant correlates of lifetime STB were cross-nationally consistent and generally modest in effect size (median adjusted odds ratio [aOR] = 1.7). Nonheterosexual orientation (aOR range 3.3-7.9) and heterosexual orientation with some same-sex attraction (aOR range 1.9-2.3) were the strongest correlates of STB, and of transitioning from ideation to plans and/or attempts (aOR range 1.6-6.1).

CONCLUSION:

The distribution of STB in first-year students is widespread, and relatively independent of socio-demographic risk profile. Multivariate risk algorithms based on a high number of risk factors are indicated to efficiently link high-risk status with effective preventive interventions.

PMID:
29588052
DOI:
10.1016/j.jaac.2018.01.018

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