Suicidal Ideation and Behavior in Youth in the Juvenile Justice System: A Review of the Literature

J Correct Health Care. 2015 Jul;21(3):222-42. doi: 10.1177/1078345815587001.


Suicide is prevalent among youth, especially those involved in the juvenile justice system. Although many studies have examined suicidal ideation and behavior in delinquent youth, prevalence rates vary widely. This article reviews studies of suicidal ideation and behavior in youth in the juvenile justice system, focusing on the point of contact: incarceration status and stage of judicial processing. Suicidal ideation and behavior are prevalent and increase with greater involvement in the juvenile justice system. Depression, sexual abuse, and trauma were the most commonly identified predictors of suicidal ideation and behavior. Prevalence rates of suicidal ideation and behavior vary by gender and race/ethnicity, indicating the need for gender-specific and culturally relevant interventions.

Keywords: detainees; juvenile justice; suicidal behavior; suicidal ideation; suicide attempts.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior*
  • African Americans / statistics & numerical data
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • European Continental Ancestry Group / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Prevalence
  • Prisons / statistics & numerical data*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Sex Offenses / statistics & numerical data
  • Social Support
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • Suicidal Ideation*
  • Suicide, Attempted / statistics & numerical data