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Youth Exposure to Suicide Attempts: Relative Impact on Personal Trauma Symptoms.

NCJ Number
Date Published
7 pages
This study reports the prevalence of youth lifetime exposure to suicide attempts by people close to them, and its association with personal non-victimization adversities, suicidal ideation, thoughts of self-harm, and trauma symptoms.
Data were collected as part of the National Surveys of Children's Exposure to Violence, comprising three cross-sectional studies conducted in 2008, 2011, and 2014 in the United States, assessing the experiences of children ages 1 month to 17 years. The current analyses utilized the self-report data from youth, ages 10-17 years, and was analyzed in 2017. Twelve percent of youth said someone close to them had tried to kill themselves. Exposure varied by age: 4 percent of youth aged 10-12 years, 13 percent of youth aged 13-15 years, and 21 percent of youth aged 16-17 years reported such exposure. Exposure to suicide attempts also varied by sex, with 8 percent of males and 16 percent of females reporting this experience. After adjusting for the total number of other types of adversity experienced, the association between exposure to suicide attempts and trauma symptoms; suicidal ideation; and thoughts of self-harm remained significant, although attenuated. Study findings that youth exposure to suicidal behavior is associated with negative emotional distress, and that it often co-occurs with other adversities and social risk factors, highlight the need to better understand the causal pathways among these risk factors to improve youth suicide prevention and response interventions.

Date Published: January 1, 2019