Suicide and friendships among American adolescents

Am J Public Health. 2004 Jan;94(1):89-95. doi: 10.2105/ajph.94.1.89.


Objectives: We investigated the relationship between friendships and suicidality among male and female adolescents.

Methods: We analyzed friendship data on 13,465 adolescents from the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health to explore the relationship between friendship and suicidal ideation and suicide attempts. We controlled for known factors associated with suicidality.

Results: Having had a friend who committed suicide increased the likelihood of suicidal ideation and attempts for both boys and girls. Socially isolated females were more likely to have suicidal thoughts, as were females whose friends were not friends with each other. Among adolescents thinking about suicide, suicide attempts appear largely stochastic, with few consistent risk factors between boys and girls.

Conclusions: The friendship environment affects suicidality for both boys and girls. Female adolescents' suicidal thoughts are significantly increased by social isolation and friendship patterns in which friends were not friends with each other.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Friends / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Logistic Models
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Psychology, Adolescent / statistics & numerical data*
  • Risk Factors
  • Role
  • Self Concept
  • Social Support*
  • Suicide / ethnology
  • Suicide / psychology*
  • Suicide / statistics & numerical data
  • Suicide, Attempted / ethnology
  • Suicide, Attempted / psychology*
  • Suicide, Attempted / statistics & numerical data
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States / epidemiology