Teenagers' attitudes about coping strategies and help-seeking behavior for suicidality

J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2004 Sep;43(9):1124-33. doi: 10.1097/01.chi.0000132811.06547.31.

Abstract

Objective: To identify youths' attitudes about coping and help-seeking strategies for suicidal ideation/behavior and examine their demographic and clinical correlates.

Method: A self-report survey was completed by high school students (N = 2,419) in six New York State schools from 1998 through 2001. The relationship between suicide attitudes and gender, depression, substance problems, serious suicidal ideation/behavior, and first-hand experience with a suicidal peer was examined.

Results: Two factors that approximate avoidance and approach coping responses, maladaptive coping strategies and help-seeking strategies, respectively, were identified. Boys scored higher than girls (t = 7.96, df = 2341, p < .001), and depressed youths (t = 15.56, df = 2323, p < .001), students with substance problems (t = 11.07, df = 2340, p < .001), and suicidal youths (t = 15.14, df = 2341, p < .001) scored significantly higher than their healthy counterparts on the maladaptive coping strategies factor. Students with first-hand experience with a suicidal peer scored significantly higher on the maladaptive coping strategies factor than those without this experience (t = 7.95, df = 2321, p < .001). Lower risk groups scored significantly higher on an adaptive help-seeking strategies factor.

Conclusions: High-risk adolescents' attitudes are characterized by core beliefs that support the use of maladaptive coping strategies in response to depression and suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Targeting such attitudes is a recommended component of youth suicide prevention efforts.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adolescent
  • Attitude*
  • Comorbidity
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • New York / epidemiology
  • Peer Group
  • Risk Assessment
  • Social Support*
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology
  • Suicide / prevention & control*
  • Suicide / psychology
  • Suicide / statistics & numerical data
  • Suicide, Attempted / prevention & control*
  • Suicide, Attempted / psychology
  • Suicide, Attempted / statistics & numerical data