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Suicidal Behavior and Suicide Rates in High School Students

The suicide rate and suicidal behavior has suffered dramatic increases over the prior three decades.  Current information related to this trend is limited to samples of data that rely heavily on sources such as:

1) clinical psychiatric populations,

2) psychological autopsies,

3) mortality statistics,

4) attempted suicides, and

5) large-scale surveys (1,2).  

The limitation of this sample data to support the suicide behaviors trend in adolescents is due to how little is known about the prevalence and correlates of these behaviors in nonclinical samples of young people.  These suicide rates based on clinical data produce valuable information in order for improved mental health care but increased study in nonclinical adolescents groups’ suicidal behaviors must be performed to create a more comprehensive response to this age groups mental health needs.  

A number of different correlates or predictors of suicidal behavior such as thoughts, plans, and attempts have been studied.  The two factors that have be given considerable attention are aggressive/impulsive behavior and drug and/or alcohol use (12-19). Aggression and suicide may have a stronger association between the two behaviors than previously thought.  

High incidences of suicidal behavior are present in samples of adolescents chosen due to their history of violent or aggressive behaviors (22-23).  This research had shown that up to two thirds of adolescent suicide attempts are impulsive occur with little premeditation and a very short planning period (24).  Illicit drug and alcohol widespread use in this age category has been a major influential factor contributing to observed increases in adolescent suicide rates (15-18).  

Further study in this category reported a strong relationship between substance abuse and suicide attempts in the effect that intoxicating substances may increase impulsivity and decrease inhibitions that may predispose substance abusers to suicide attempts (26-27). 


Aggression, Substance Use, and Suicidal Behaviors in High School Students

American Journal of Public Health February 1993

1.    Garrison CZ. The study of suicidal behavior in the schools. Suicide Life Threat Behav. 1989;19:120-130

2.    Garrison CZ, Lewinsohn PM, Marsteller F, Langhinrichsen J, Lann I. The assessment of suicidal behavior in adolescents. Suicide Life Threat Behav. 1991;21:217-230.

12. Cairns RB, Peterson G, Neckerman HJ. Suicidal behavior in aggressive adolescents. J Clin Child Psychol. 1988;17:298-309.

13. Clark DC, Sommerfeldt L, Schwartz M, Hedeker D, Watel L. Physical recklessness in adolescence: trait or byproduct of depressive/suicidal states? J Nerv Ment Dis. 1990;178:423-433.

14. Shaffer D, Fisher P. The epidemiology of suicide in children and young adolescents. J Am Acad Child Psychiatry. 1981;20:545-565.

15. Crumley FE. Substance abuse and adolescent suicidal behavior, JAMA. 1990;263:3051-3056.

16. Berman AL, Schwartz RH. Suicide attempts among adolescent drug users. Am J Dis Child. 1990;144:310-314.

17. Brent DA, Perper JA, Goldstein CE, et al. Risk factors for adolescent suicide; a comparison of adolescent suicide victims with suicidal inpatients. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1988;45:581-588.

18, 19, 22, 23, 24, 26, 27

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