Suicide-related behaviors and anxiety in children and adolescents: a review

Clin Psychol Rev. 2011 Nov;31(7):1133-44. doi: 10.1016/j.cpr.2011.07.008. Epub 2011 Jul 28.


This paper reviews empirical evidence of the association between suicide-related behaviors and anxiety among children and adolescents. It begins with a review of suicide-related behaviors and anxiety, discusses methodological issues related to measurement, and reviews empirical findings published since the last review of this topic in 1988. Evidence is summarized on four criteria necessary to establish anxiety as a causal risk factor for suicide-related behaviors among children and adolescents. There is consistent evidence for a significant association between anxiety and suicide-related behaviors (Criterion 1). Evidence that the influence of anxiety on suicide-related behaviors is not due to a third variable (Criterion 2) is mixed and hindered by methodological limitations. The literature is also unclear as to whether anxiety temporally precedes suicide-related behaviors (Criterion 3). Finally, this review found no evidence to support or refute anxiety's stability independent of and across instances of suicide-related behaviors (Criterion 4). Theoretical and clinical implications of these findings and directions for future research are discussed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anxiety / psychology*
  • Anxiety Disorders / psychology*
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Risk Factors
  • Suicide / psychology*