Incidence and predictors of suicidal behaviors in a longitudinal sample of young adolescents

Robert E. McKeown, Carol Z. Garrison, Steven P. Cuffe, Jennifer L. Waller, Kirby L. Jackson, Cheryl L. Addy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

178 Scopus citations


Objective: This analysis examines 1-year transition probabilities and baseline predictors for suicidal behaviors in young adolescents. Method: Adolescents from a two-stage, community-based longitudinal study were classified into suicidal behavior categories (attempt, plan, ideation, and none) for baseline and follow-up years. Transition probabilities for movement among categories were calculated, and polytomous logistic regression analysis was used to examine predictors of suicidal behaviors. Results: Among those with no suicidal behaviors at baseline, 1-year incidence rates were 1.3% for attempts and 1.7% each for plans and ideation. Increasing family cohesion was protective for suicide attempts (odds ratio [OR] = 0.9). Female subjects were more likely than males to report plans (OR = 8.9) and ideation (OR = 4.1). Increasing impulsivity (OR = 2.3), prior suicidal behavior (OR = 10.6), and undesirable life events (OR = 1.1) were significant predictors of plans. Conclusions: While there are a number of predictors of suicidal behaviors, the falsepositive rate is high. Focusing on proximal risk factors, particularly stressors in adolescent development, may overlook the fundamental role of underlying mental disorder and familial factors - both biological and environmental. Suicide and suicidal behaviors are the result of a constellation of adverse factors requiring a range of interventions for prevention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)612-619
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1998


  • Adolescence
  • Community studies
  • Epidemiology
  • Suicide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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