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Suicide among children and younger and older adolescents in Norway: a comparative study.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Oslo, Norway.



To compare characteristics and risk factors of suicide in early adolescence (younger than age 15 years) and in late adolescence. The authors examined whether differences in risk factors or resilience might explain the different suicide rates in the two age groups.


Information about all registered suicides of young people in Norway from 1990 through 1992 was gathered from several professional informants. Children younger than 15 years old who committed suicide (n = 14) were compared with late-adolescent suicides (15 through 19 years) (n = 115) and with controls (n = 889).


Younger compared with older adolescent suicides more often hanged themselves (93% versus 35%). Suicidal ideation (7% versus 39%) and precipitating events were described less frequently (29% versus 49%). Older adolescents more often had psychiatric disorders (77% versus 43%). Compared with controls, the risk factors for suicide were affective disorders (young adolescents: odds ratio [OR] = 23.8, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 2.3 to 1,183; older adolescents: OR = 19.6, CI = 10.6 to 38.8); disruptive disorders (young adolescents: OR = 3.4, CI = 0.0 to 340; older adolescents: OR = 6.1, CI = 3.0 to 12.7); and not living with two biological parents (young adolescents: OR = 3.1, CI = 0.6 to 14.7; older adolescents: OR = 2.5, CI = 1.6 to 3.8).


Children and young adolescents completing suicide were less exposed to known risk factors than older adolescents. The increased suicide risk was similar for both groups when they were compared with community controls. The low suicide incidence in childhood may be related to fewer risk factors, rather than to resilience to risk factors.

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