Trajectories of depressive symptoms and externalizing behaviors across adolescence: associations with histories of suicide attempt and ideation in early adulthood

Suicide Life Threat Behav. 2013 Feb;43(1):50-66. doi: 10.1111/j.1943-278X.2012.00127.x. Epub 2012 Oct 12.


We examined associations between adolescent problem trajectories and suicide risk outcomes in 361 community participants. Depressive symptoms (self-report) and externalizing behaviors (parent report) were assessed six times from grades 5 to 10. Parallel process linear growth curves indicated that lifetime suicide attempt history assessed to age 25 was associated with higher intercept (grade 5) and slope (increases from grades 5 to 10) of depressive symptoms and higher slope of externalizing behaviors. Both problem intercepts predicted suicidal ideation at ages 18 to 25 years. Adolescent depressive and externalizing symptom trajectories showed independent associations with suicide risk. Preventive intervention that occurs prior to the developmental period in which suicidal thoughts and behaviors show peak prevalence is expected to prevent suicide.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Behavioral Symptoms / diagnosis
  • Behavioral Symptoms / psychology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Depression / diagnosis
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Risk
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Suicidal Ideation*
  • Suicide, Attempted / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult