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Suicidality and Depression Among African American Adolescents: The Role of Family and Peer Support and Community Connectedness

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  • This study was supported in part by a K-01 Career Development Award from the National Institute of Mental Health for Molock.
    We would like to thank the African American Intervention Research in Suicidality (AIRIS) lab for its contribution towards this study. We would also like to acknowledge Christian Connell and members of the Risk & Resilience Lab Group for helpful comments on earlier drafts of the manuscript.

concerning this article should be addressed to Samantha Matlin, The Division of Prevention and Community Research, Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine, 389 Whitney Avenue, New Haven, CT 06511. Electronic mail may be sent to samantha.matlin@yale.edu.

Abstract

Rates of suicide are increasing among African American adolescents and pose a significant public health concern. One area that has received little attention is the relationship between various types of social support and suicide, and the extent to which support moderates the relationship between depressive symptoms and suicidality. A total of 212 African American adolescents completed in-school surveys on three types of social support: family support, peer support, and community connectedness. The survey also addressed depressive symptoms and suicidality, as measured by reasons for living, a cognitive measure of suicide risk. Hierarchical multiple regression analyses were used to examine direct and moderating relationships between types of social support and suicidality. The results indicated that increased family support and peer support are associated with decreased suicidality, and peer support and community connectedness moderated the relationship between depressive symptoms and suicidality. Over a third of the variability in reasons for living was predicted by family support, peer support, and community connectedness. Implications for research and preventative interventions for African American adolescents are discussed.

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