Purpose: We examined the prospective associations between delinquency and suicidal behaviors among adolescents using a nationally representative sample.
Methods: The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health was used to assess the prospective associations between delinquency at ages 12-17 years and suicidal behaviors (ideation, attempts, treatment for attempts) 1 and 7 years later.
Results: Controlling for demographic variables, delinquency was prospectively associated with an increased risk for all three suicidal behaviors 1 year later, and to ideations and attempts 7 years later. After controlling for other risk factors (i.e., depression, self-esteem, problem drinking, impulsivity, religiosity), delinquency was still significantly related to an increased likelihood for suicidal ideation 1 and 7 years later, and to suicide attempts 1 year later. Further, delinquency was significantly related to suicidal ideation for girls more than for boys.
Conclusions: These findings suggest that delinquent youth, particularly delinquent girls, should be targeted in interventions to reduce suicidal behaviors.