Adolescent exposure to the World Trade Center attacks, PTSD symptomatology, and suicidal ideation

Authors

  • Claude M. Chemtob,

    Corresponding author
    1. New York University School of Medicine
    Current affiliation:
    1. Department of Psychiatry, New York University School of Medicine
    • Psychiatry and Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 215 Lexington Avenue, New York University School of Medicine, New York, NY 10016
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  • Anita Madan,

    1. New York University School of Medicine
    Current affiliation:
    1. Department of Psychiatry, New York University School of Medicine
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  • Pinchas Berger,

    1. Jewish Board of Family and Children's Services, Inc., New York, NY
    Current affiliation:
    1. Jewish Board of Family and Children's Services, Inc., New York, NY
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  • Robert Abramovitz

    1. Jewish Board of Family and Children's Services, Inc., New York, NY
    2. Mount Sinai School of Medicine
    Current affiliation:
    1. Jewish Board of Family and Children's Services, Inc., New York, NY
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Abstract

This study examined the associations between different types of trauma exposure, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, and suicidal ideation among New York City adolescents 1 year after the World Trade Center attacks. A sample of 817 adolescents, aged 13–18, was drawn from 2 Jewish parochial high schools (97% participation rate). We assessed 3 types of trauma exposure, current (within the past month) and past (within the past year) suicidal ideation, and current PTSD symptoms. Findings indicated that probable PTSD was associated with increased risk for suicidal ideation. Exposure to attack-related traumatic events increased risk for both suicidal ideation and PTSD. However, specific types of trauma exposure differentially predicted suicidal ideation and PTSD: knowing someone who was killed increased risk for PTSD, but not for suicidal ideation, and having a family member who was hurt but not killed, increased risk for suicidal ideation, but not for PTSD. This study extends findings from the adult literature showing associations between trauma exposure, PTSD, and increased suicidal ideation in adolescents.

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