Psychometric properties and clinical utility of the Scale for Suicidal Ideation (SSI) in adolescents

Matti M Holi, Mirjami Pelkonen, Linnea Karlsson, Olli Kiviruusu, Titta Ruuttu, Hannele Heilä, Virpi Tuisku, Mauri Marttunen
BMC Psychiatry 2005, 5: 8

BACKGROUND: Accurate assessment of suicidality is of major importance in both clinical and research settings. The Scale for Suicidal Ideation (SSI) is a well-established clinician-rating scale but its suitability to adolescents has not been studied. The aim of this study was to evaluate the reliability and validity, and to test an appropriate cutoff threshold for the SSI in a depressed adolescent outpatient population and controls.

METHODS: 218 adolescent psychiatric outpatient clinic patients suffering from depressive disorders and 200 age- and sex-matched school-attending controls were evaluated by the SSI for presence and severity of suicidal ideation. Internal consistency, discriminative-, concurrent-, and construct validity as well as the screening properties of the SSI were evaluated.

RESULTS: Cronbach's alpha for the whole SSI was 0.95. The SSI total score differentiated patients and controls, and increased statistically significantly in classes with increasing severity of suicidality derived from the suicidality items of the K-SADS-PL diagnostic interview. Varimax-rotated principal component analysis of the SSI items yielded three theoretically coherent factors suggesting construct validity. Area under the receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve was 0.84 for the whole sample and 0.80 for the patient sample. The optimal cutoff threshold for the SSI total score was 3/4 yielding sensitivity of 75% and specificity of 88.9% in this population.

CONCLUSIONS: SSI appears to be a reliable and a valid measure of suicidal ideation for depressed adolescents.


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