Increased risk of suicidal thoughts among adolescents appears related to recent victimization

October 22, 2012

An increased risk of suicidal ideation (thoughts of harming or killing oneself) in adolescents appears to be associated with recent victimization, such as by peers, sexual assault, and maltreatment, according to a report published Online First by Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, a JAMA Network publication.

Youth suicide is the third leading cause of death for adolescents in the United States, with 11 percent of all deaths among 12- to 19-year-olds from 1999 to 2006 due to suicide, representing more than 16,000 deaths every year, the authors write in the study background.

Heather A. Turner, Ph.D., of the University of New Hampshire, Durham, and colleagues conducted a study using data from the National Survey of Children's Exposure to Violence. The study included a survey of a national sample of 1,186 young people between the ages of 10 to 17 years.

The authors report that 4.3 percent of the total sample reported having experienced suicidal ideation within the month preceding the interview.

"Peer-victimized youth had almost 2.4 times the risk of suicidal ideation, those sexually assaulted in the past year had about 3.4 times the risk and those who were maltreated had almost 4.4 times the risk of suicidal ideation," compared with children who were not exposed to these types of victimization, the authors note.

The study findings also indicate that children who were subject to polyvictimization (exposure to seven or more individual types of victimization in the past year) were almost six times more likely to report suicidal ideation.

Researchers suggest that the study findings emphasize the need to include comprehensive victimization assessment in adolescent suicide prevention and intervention efforts, especially the significance of polyvictimization. Treatment responses to sexual assault, peer-perpetrated victimization and child maltreatment also must recognize the increased risk of suicidal behavior, the authors note.

"Although much research in this area has focused on neurological risks and psychopharmacologic interventions, these findings point to the importance of the environment and the value of victimization prevention in reducing suicidal behavior. A comprehensive approach to suicide prevention needs to address the safety of youth in their homes, schools and neighborhoods," the authors conclude.

Explore further: Youth with behavior problems are more likely to have thought of suicide

More information: Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. Published online October 22, 2012. doi:10.1001/archpediatrics.2012.1549

Related Stories

Youth with behavior problems are more likely to have thought of suicide

December 6, 2011
Children who show early signs of problem behavior are more likely to have thought of killing or harming themselves, suggests new research in the latest issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia can reduce suicidal ideation

June 14, 2011
Treating sleep problems with cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia can reduce suicidal ideation, suggests a research abstract that will be presented Tuesday, June 14, in Minneapolis, Minn., at SLEEP 2011, the 25th Anniversary ...

Research finds bullies and victims three times more likely to have suicidal thoughts by age 11

February 29, 2012
as both a victim and a bully – are three times more likely to have suicidal thoughts by the time they reach 11 years old, according to research from the University of Warwick.

Study finds over 70 percent of suicidal teens don't get the mental health services they need

September 14, 2011
Suicidal teens are not likely to get the mental healthcare they need. This is according to a team of researchers at Seattle Children's Research Institute, the University of Washington (UW), and Group Health Research Institute. ...

Recommended for you

Children with fragile X syndrome have a bias toward threatening emotion

August 23, 2017
Anxiety occurs at high rates in children with fragile X syndrome (FXS), the most common form of inherited intellectual disability. Children with co-occurring anxiety tend to fare worse, but it can be hard to identify in infants. ...

So-called "bright girl effect" does not last into adulthood

August 23, 2017
The notion that young females limit their own progress based on what they believe about their intelligence—called the "bright girl effect"—does not persist into adulthood, according to new research from Case Western Reserve ...

Like adults, children show bias in attributing mental states to others

August 22, 2017
Young children are more likely to attribute mental states to characters that belong to the same group as them relative to characters that belong to an outside group, according to findings published in Psychological Science, ...

High moral reasoning associated with increased activity in the human brain's reward system

August 22, 2017
Individuals who have a high level of moral reasoning show increased activity in the brain's frontostriatal reward system, both during periods of rest and while performing a sequential risk taking and decision making task ...

Yoga and meditation improve mind-body health and stress resilience

August 22, 2017
Many people report positive health effects from practicing yoga and meditation, and experience both mental and physical benefits from these practices. However, we still have much to learn about how exactly these practices ...

Wealth disparity and family income impact the brain development of female youth

August 22, 2017
Female teenagers living in neighbourhoods with wide salary gaps and a low-income household show changes to their brain maturation that could indicate a higher risk of developing mental illness in adulthood, suggests a recently ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.