Incidence and predictors of suicidal behaviors in a longitudinal sample of young adolescents

J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 1998 Jun;37(6):612-9. doi: 10.1097/00004583-199806000-00011.


Objective: This analysis examines 1-year transition probabilities and baseline predictors for suicidal behaviors in young adolescents.

Method: Adolescents from a two-stage, community-based longitudinal study were classified into suicidal behavior categories (attempt, plan, ideation, and none) for baseline and follow-up years. Transition probabilities for movement among categories were calculated, and polytomous logistic regression analysis was used to examine predictors of suicidal behaviors.

Results: Among those with no suicidal behaviors at baseline, 1-year incidence rates were 1.3% for attempts and 1.7% each for plans and ideation. Increasing family cohesion was protective for suicide attempts (odds ratio [OR] = 0.9). Female subjects were more likely than males to report plans (OR = 8.9) and ideation (OR = 4.1). Increasing impulsivity (OR = 2.3), prior suicidal behavior (OR = 10.6), and undesirable life events (OR = 1.1) were significant predictors of plans.

Conclusions: While there are a number of predictors of suicidal behaviors, the false-positive rate is high. Focusing on proximal risk factors, particularly stressors in adolescent development, may overlook the fundamental role of underlying mental disorder and familial factors--both biological and environmental. Suicide and suicidal behaviors are the result of a constellation of adverse factors requiring a range of interventions for prevention.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Odds Ratio
  • Risk Factors
  • South Carolina / epidemiology
  • Suicide / prevention & control
  • Suicide / psychology
  • Suicide, Attempted / psychology
  • Suicide, Attempted / statistics & numerical data*