Suicidal Behaviour Among Youth in Five Public Sectors of Care

Authors

  • Denise A. Chavira,

    1. University of California San Diego, Department of Psychiatry, 8939 Villa La Jolla Drive, Ste 200, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA. E-mail: dchavira@ucsd.edu
    2. Child and Adolescent Services Research Center, San Diego, CA, USA
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  • Erin C. Accurso,

    1. Child and Adolescent Services Research Center, San Diego, CA, USA
    2. University of California San Diego/San Diego State University Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology, San Diego, CA, USA
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  • Ann F. Garland,

    1. University of California San Diego, Department of Psychiatry, 8939 Villa La Jolla Drive, Ste 200, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA. E-mail: dchavira@ucsd.edu
    2. Child and Adolescent Services Research Center, San Diego, CA, USA
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  • Richard Hough

    1. University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM, USA
    2. Behavioral Health Research Center of the Southwest, Albuquerque, NM, USA
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Abstract

Background:  Rates of suicidal ideation and behaviours as well as associated risk factors are examined among youth recruited from five public sectors of care (i.e. child welfare, juvenile justice, special education services, alcohol and drug services, and county mental health).

Method:  1057 youth (ages 11–18) completed a diagnostic interview and questionnaires assessing relevant suicide risk factors at baseline and 2-year follow-up.

Results:  While past year thoughts about death (28%) and talking about killing oneself (7.1%) were comparable to community norms, rates of lifetime suicide attempts (20.1%) were considerably higher in this sample. However, youth in the special education sector reported significantly more suicidal thoughts and behaviours relative to the other sectors. In multivariate analyses, longitudinal predictors of suicidality included major depression, female gender, and involvement in the special education sector.

Conclusions:  Efforts to implement screening and evidence based interventions for depression and suicide in the public sector, particularly special education services, are necessary.

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