Differentiating Adolescent Suicide Attempters from Ideators: Examining the Interaction between Depression Severity and Alcohol Use

Authors

  • Kimberly H. McManama O'Brien LICSW, PhD,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies, Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Providence RI, USA
    • Address correspondence to Kimberly H. McManama O'Brien, Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies, Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Providence, RI 02903; E-mail:kimberly_obrien@brown.edu

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  • Sara J. Becker PhD,

    1. Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies, Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Providence RI, USA
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  • Anthony Spirito PhD,

    1. Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies, Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Providence RI, USA
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  • Valerie Simon PhD,

    1. Merrill Palmer Institute, Wayne State University, Detroit MI, USA
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  • Mitchell J. Prinstein PhD

    1. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill NC, USA
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Abstract

Depressed mood, frequency of alcohol use, and their combination were examined to see if they differentiated nonsuicidal adolescents from those with suicidal ideation and adolescents with suicidal ideation from those who have made a suicide attempt. Hierarchical logistic regressions indicated that frequency of alcohol use did not differentiate nonsuicidal adolescents from those with current suicidal ideation, but severity of depressed mood did so. In contrast, alcohol use was a significant differentiating factor between adolescents who had attempted suicide compared to those with suicidal ideation only, with severity of depressed mood not being significant. However, there was also a significant interaction effect such that for adolescents with suicidal ideation and low levels of depression, increased frequency of alcohol use was associated with increased odds of a suicide attempt. These findings suggest that alcohol use may hasten the transition from suicidal ideation to suicide attempt in adolescents with low levels of depressed mood.

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