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J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 1995 May;34(5):599-611.

Early psychosocial risks for adolescent suicidal ideation and attempts.

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Simmons College School of Social Work, Boston, MA 02116, USA.



An ongoing, 14-year, longitudinal community study examined psychosocial risks for adolescent suicidal ideation and attempts, as well as the link between earlier suicidal behavior and later functioning.


Nearly 400 youths were followed between the ages of 5 and 18 years. Suicidal ideation was assessed at age 15 and lifetime suicide attempts were determined at age 18. Risk factors covered developmental periods from birth to age 15, and most were measured prospectively using multiple informants. Late-adolescent functioning (at age 18) was based on both self-reports and school records.


For both genders, the early onset (by age 14) of psychiatric disorders significantly increased the risk for suicidal ideation at age 15 and suicide attempts by age 18. Early gender-specific risks for suicidal ideation included preschool behaviors that are counter to typical gender norms, such as aggressive behavior in females and dependence in males. Suicidal ideation at age 15 and suicide attempts were both associated with deficits in later adolescence (at age 18) in behavioral and social-emotional functioning.


Suicidal ideation at age 15 was a marker of distress with long-term implications for later functioning. The early gender-specific risk factors for suicidal behavior identified in this study can aid in developing strategies for prevention and early intervention.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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