Adolescent health brief| Volume 50, ISSUE 5, P524-526, May 2012

Suicidal Ideation and Self-Harm Behavior in a Community Sample of Preadolescent Youth: A Case-Control Study



      Research has focused on understanding risk factors associated with suicidal ideation and self-harm behaviors in older youth, but less is known regarding these behaviors in preadolescents. We examined characteristics associated with suicidal ideation and self-harm behavior in youth aged 10–13 years.


      A community sample of 387 youth was enrolled in a prospective study assessing precursors of risk behaviors. Twenty-three subjects endorsing items regarding suicidal ideation or self-harm behaviors (Achenbach's Youth Self-Report) (endorsers) were matched with 23 non-endorsers. Groups were compared on problem behaviors, impulsivity, neurocognitive function, risk behaviors, and other variables.


      Endorsers had higher levels of impulsivity, were more likely in borderline/clinical range on 5 of 8 Youth Self-Report Syndrome scales, and reported more risk taking. Endorsers and non-endorsers were similar in neurocognitive function. More non-endorsers were on stimulants, but groups were similar in parental monitoring and parental report of behavioral/emotional issues, socioeconomic status, and marital status.


      In this study, preadolescent endorsers report significantly more problem behaviors than non-endorsers. However, parental monitoring and parent report of problems were similar between groups. Given these findings, we suggest that at-risk youth may be underrecognized at young ages.


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