The Mediating Roles of Anxiety, Depression, and Hopelessness on Adolescent Suicidal Behaviors


  • Funding for this project was provided by the National Institute of Nursing Research (R01 NR-MH-03550 and R01 NR-03548), Leona L. Eggert, Principal Investigator. We are grateful to the many young people who participated in this study providing us with invaluable insights; to members of the Reconnecting Youth Prevention Research Team for their expertise in program implementation, data collection, and data management; and to Catherine Olcott for her assistance in manuscript preparation.

Address correspondence to Elaine Adams Thompson, Psychosocial & Community Health, Box 358732, University of Washington School of Nursing, Seattle, Washington 98195; E-mail:


The purpose of this study was to explore the roles of anxiety, depression, and hopelessness as mediators between known risk factors and suicidal behaviors among 1,287 potential high school dropouts. As a step toward theory development, a model was tested that posited the relationships among these variables and their effects on suicidal behaviors. Structural equation models, estimated separately by gender, revealed support for the model, and substantial similarities between males and females. The results showed direct effects of depression and hopelessness on suicidal behaviors for males, and direct effects of hopelessness, but not depression, for females. For both males and females, anxiety was directly linked to depression and hopelessness; drug involvement had both direct and indirect effects on suicidal behavior. As hypothesized, lack of family support showed indirect influences on suicidal behaviors through anxiety for both males and females. The results have important implications for future model development regarding adolescent suicidal behaviors.