Objective: To examine violence exposure, violent behaviors, psychological trauma, and suicide risk in a community sample of dangerously violent adolescents by comparison with a matched community sample of nonviolent adolescents.
Method: Anonymous self-report questionnaires were administered in the 1992-1993 school year to students in grades 9 through 12, in six public high schools located in Ohio and Colorado (N = 3,735). From this sample, 484 adolescents (349 males, 135 females) who reported attacking someone with a knife or shooting at someone within the past year (i.e., dangerously violent adolescents) were drawn. Four hundred eighty-four controls were also selected and matched on gender, age in years, ethnicity, area of residence, and family structure.
Results: Dangerously violent adolescents reported higher levels of exposure to violence and victimization than did matched controls. Dangerously violent females were more likely to score in the clinical range of depression, anxiety, posttraumatic stress, anger, and dissociation than were control females and violent males; they also had significantly higher levels of suicide potential.
Conclusions: Students who have been known to commit violent acts should be adequately assessed for violence exposure and symptoms of psychological trauma, with special attention given to the suicide potential of violent females.