Suicidal Ideation Among High School Adolescents in the United States

Date

2023

Authors

Flores, Claribel
Thompson, Erika

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Purpose: Suicidal ideation represents thoughts or contemplations about death and suicide. Suicidal ideation has become a growing concern since suicide is the second leading cause of death among adolescents in the United States. The purpose of this analysis is to explore the epidemiology of suicidal ideation and the association between suicidal ideation and actual suicide attempts among high school adolescents in the U.S. Methods: The data source was the 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBS). The sample size was 13,677. The primary variable was suicidal ideation measured from "During the past 12 months, did you ever seriously considered attempting suicide?” and categorized as yes or no. A secondary variable was actual attempt at suicide measured from "During the past 12 months, how many times did you actually attempt suicide? and categorized as yes or no. Demographics including sex, race/ethnicity, grade, and sexual orientation were also measured. The statistical analyses used were logistic regression, pairwise differences using t-tests, and chi-squares and p-values <0.05 were considered statistically significant. Data were obtained from the CDC YRBS Explorer tool. Results: Suicidal ideation decreased from 19.3% to 13.8% from 1999 to 2009. However, it increased from 13.8% to 18.8% from 2009 to 2019. Furthermore, females (24.1%), American Indian or Alaskan Native students (34.7%), bisexual students (48.5%), and those who had sexual contact with both sexes (58.9%) were significantly more likely to seriously consider attempting suicide compared to White students, heterosexual students and those with no sexual contact, respectively (p<0.05). Moreover, There was a significant association between seriously considering attempting suicide and attempted suicide (p<0.01). Among persons who considered suicide, 40.7% actually attempted suicide, compared to 59.3% who considered suicide and but did not attempt it. Conclusions: Due to the growing prevalence of suicidal ideation among high school adolescents, more research is needed to be done to create interventions that can help students who are experiencing suicidal ideation and prevent suicide attempts. Furthermore, these interventions should aim to target females, Asian Indian or Alaskan Native students, and LGBTQ+ students since suicide ideation was higher among these populations.

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