Objective: To determine the relative importance of aggression and depression in adolescent suicide within different diagnostic categories.
Method: One hundred sixty-three consecutive admissions to an adolescent psychiatric inpatient unit were assessed using a semistructure diagnostic instrument, the Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia for School-Age Children. Scores for depression, suicidal behaviors, and violent behaviors were calculated from this assessment.
Results: Anorexia nervosa and conduct disorder patients had the highest suicidal behavior scores. In addition, patients with conduct disorder were significantly more violent than patients with major depressive disorder, and scores on the Violent Behavior Scale correlated with suicidal symptoms but not with depressive symptoms.
Conclusion: Aggression may be as important in some kinds of suicidal behaviors as is depression. Thus it seems that there are hypothetically at least two types of suicidal behaviors during adolescence: a wish to die (depression) and a wish not to be here for a time (impulse control). The first type of suicidal behavior characterizes that seen in disorders with prominent depression such as major depressive disorder and anorexia nervosa, and the second characterizes disorders of impulse control such as conduct disorder.