Identifying depressed and suicidal adolescents in a teen health clinic

J Adolesc Health. 1995 Jan;16(1):64-70. doi: 10.1016/1054-139X(94)00076-Q.


Purpose: This study examined the 6-month prevalence of depression and suicidal probability among new referrals to an adolescent health clinic.

Methods: All subjects (n = 104) completed the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) and the Suicide Probability Scale (SPS) prior to being seen by a physician and were categorized according to presenting problem (physical complaints only, psychological complaints only, and physical and psychological complaints combined).

Results: Fifty-nine percent of the sample was depressed with 21% falling in the moderate range and 21% falling within the severe range of depression. Almost 23% of the sample demonstrated significant suicidal probability. The BDI and SPS were highly correlated (r = .73, p < .001) and 22% of the sample met criteria for both moderate to severe depression and suicidal probability. A significantly greater proportion of patients presenting with physical and psychological complaints combined (60%) met BDI criteria for depression than was found for the other two groups. Suicidal probability was most prevalent in patients presenting with psychological complaints only (26%) and moderate to severe depression and significant suicidal probability also coexisted to a greater extent within this group (26%).

Conclusions: Results suggest that depression and suicidal probability represent significant mental health problems within the adolescent clinic and the identification of high-risk individuals can be achieved through comprehensive screening practices.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior*
  • Adolescent Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Depression / diagnosis
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Depression / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Personality Inventory
  • Prevalence
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Risk Factors
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Suicide, Attempted / psychology
  • Suicide, Attempted / statistics & numerical data*