Prospective associations between delinquency and suicidal behaviors in a nationally representative sample

J Adolesc Health. 2007 Mar;40(3):232-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2006.10.016.


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.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior
  • Age Distribution
  • Causality
  • Child
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Juvenile Delinquency / statistics & numerical data*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Odds Ratio
  • Prospective Studies
  • Regression Analysis
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Distribution
  • Suicide / statistics & numerical data*
  • United States / epidemiology