Selected risk factors in adolescent suicide attempts

Adolescence. Winter 1991;26(104):817-28.


This study examined stress, depression, attempted suicide, and knowledge of common signs of potential suicide in Alabama adolescents. A modified version of the National Adolescent Student Health Survey (NASHS) was administered to 3,803 eighth- and tenth-grade public school students during the fall of 1988. The incidence of stress, depression, and attempted suicide was analyzed by gender, ethnicity, locale (urban vs. rural), and participation in sexual intercourse and use of alcohol. Chi-square tests were used to determine if there were significant differences between groups. Findings indicated that females were at greater risk than were males. Both males and females who engaged in sexual intercourse and alcohol consumption were at greater risk than were abstainers. When analyzed by ethnicity, white adolescents who engaged in these behaviors were at significantly greater risk than were those who abstained; differences were not as pronounced for black youth. Comparisons on the knowledge scale indicated that females scored better than males, whites scored better than blacks, and urban students scored better than rural students. The data suggest that many adolescents are having difficulty coping with stress and depression, and that those who are engaging in various types of risk-taking behavior are at greater risk for depression and suicide.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior*
  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / psychology
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Ethnic Groups
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Psychology, Adolescent*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Sexual Behavior
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology
  • Suicide, Attempted / psychology*
  • Suicide, Attempted / statistics & numerical data