Young suicide attempters: a comparison between a clinical and an epidemiological sample

J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2000 Jul;39(7):868-75. doi: 10.1097/00004583-200007000-00015.


Objective: To compare risk factors for self-harm in 2 groups: hospitalized adolescents who had attempted suicide and adolescents reporting suicide attempts in a community survey.

Method: All suicide attempters aged 13 to 19 years admitted to medical wards (n = 91) in a region of Norway were assessed and interviewed. Risk factors were identified by comparisons with a general population sample participating in a questionnaire study in the same community (n = 1,736). In this population sample, a separate analysis of risk factors for reporting deliberate self-harm (n = 141) was performed, applying bivariate and multivariate logistic regression models.

Results: Adjusted risk factors for suicide attempts in hospitalized adolescents were depression (odds ratio [OR] = 4.7), disruptive disorders (OR = 9.4), low self-worth (OR = 1.3), infrequent support from parents (OR = 3.3) or peers (OR = 3.3), parents' excessive drinking (OR = 4.3), and low socioeconomic status (OR = 2.4). For adolescents who self-reported self-harm, depression (OR = 3.1) and loneliness (OR = 1.13) were significant adjusted risk factors (p < .001). Low self-worth, low socioeconomic status, and little support from parents or peers characterized hospitalized suicidal adolescents compared with those who were not hospitalized.

Conclusions: The risk factors were more powerful for hospitalized than for nonhospitalized adolescents. Prevention efforts should target the same factors for both groups, at a population level for nonhospitalized adolescents and at an individual level for hospitalized adolescents, with a focus on depression, low self-esteem, and family communication.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Family Relations*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inpatients / psychology*
  • Male
  • Norway / epidemiology
  • Odds Ratio
  • Population Surveillance
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Self Concept*
  • Self Disclosure
  • Suicide, Attempted / prevention & control
  • Suicide, Attempted / psychology*
  • Suicide, Attempted / statistics & numerical data