Suicide ideation and suicide attempts are common in teens with mental health problems


Suicide has been on the rise in the pediatric population. Now a new report looks at the prevalence of suicide ideation and suicide attempts in teenagers and young adults with mental health problems.

The pop culture of the past few years along with continual reports shedding light on the increasing number of suicides and incidence of suicide ideation has made mental health a critical area of pediatric care. A new report in Pediatrics adds more data about suicidal ideation and attempts.1

The investigators used data from the Québec Longitudinal Study of Child Development. Validated questionnaires were used to assess externalizing, which included oppositional/defiance, conduct issues, and attention deficit and/or hyperactivity, and internalizing, which included depression and anxiety.

The study included 1618 patients. The lifetime prevalence of passive suicidal ideation in patients aged 13 to 17 years was 22.2%; lifetime prevalence of serious suicidal ideation was 9.8%; and the lifetime prevalence of a suicide attempt in patients aged 13 to 20 years was 6.7%. The rates of passive and serious ideation increased with time, but the rates for suicide attempt were stable. Following univariable analyses, suicide-related outcomes were linked to all the studied mental health problems. The association was of similar strength for both male and female participants. Following multivariable analyses, depressive and conduct symptoms were linked to suicide attempt and internalizing problems were linked to suicidal ideation.

The researchers concluded that suicide ideation and suicide attempts were common among adolescent and young adult patients. The common nature of suicidal risk in these groups should lead providers to assess suicide risk in all teenagers and especially in those who have mental health problems.


1. Orri M, Scardera S, Perret LC, et al. Mental health problems and risk of suicidal ideation and attempts in adolescents. Pediatrics. 2020;145(6):e20193823. doi: 10.1542/peds.2019-3823

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