ADHD and Aggression as Correlates of Suicidal Behavior in Assaultive Prepubertal Psychiatric Inpatients


  • This research was supported by three generous grants to the first author from the International Psychoanalytical Association Research Advisory Board, the Long Island University Research Fund, and the New York Freudian Society. The first author would like to recognize the extraordinary research assistance of Ancy Augustine, Kristan Baker, Robert Bartlett, Christine DiBenedetto, Amanda Gopen, Shay Loftus, Dawn Lotter, Anna Marantidis, Marcia Miller, Zebbie Moral, Grace Palacio, Michael Sapp, Karen Schwartz, Lina Umylny, and Becky Whipple during all phases of this study. The authors express appreciation to Maurizio Zambenedetti for permitting access to the children's psychiatric inpatient unit and for arranging access to the school district. The authors gratefully acknowledge the cooperation of the children and mothers who participated in this study.

Clinical Psychology Doctoral Program, Long Island University, 720 Northern Blvd., Brookville, NY 11548; E-mail:


Forty-three psychiatrically hospitalized prepubertal children were assessed regarding their assaultive and suicidal behaviors. These children were subsequently classified into two groups, assaultive/suicidal (AS) and assaultive-only (AO). AS children had higher aggression and suicidal-scale scores, but not higher depression scores, and were more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD. ADHD, child's aggression, and maternal depression and state anger accounted for 33% of the variance in suicidal-scale scores. Aggression mediated the relation between ADHD and suicidal behavior. Differences in symptom pattern between these two subtypes of assaultive inpatient children are interpreted as a basis for distinctive screening procedures.