[Suicidal behavior in adolescents—psychopathology and addictive comorbidity]

Viktor Vörös, Sándor Fekete, Anthea Hewitt, Péter Osváth
Neuropsychopharmacologia Hungarica 2005, 7 (2): 66-71
Despite of the decreasing suicide rates, the number of suicide attempts--peculiarly in the adolescent population--shows a growing tendency. Due to the small amount of study results the problem remains hard to assess. Child and Adolescent Self harm in Europe (CASE) study, allows us to explore self-reported suicidal behavior among adolescents more exactly. This European multicentre study has a special focus on adolescent suicidal behavior (suicidal thoughts, ideation, deliberate self harm, suicide attempt) and other self destructive behavior (drug, alcohol) as well as psychopathological symptoms (anxiety, depression, impulsivity, aggression) and it also investigates coping strategies, life events and family background. In the representative school-based community study an anonymous, self-reported questionnaire were conducted with 4408 (males: 2388, females: 2020) 15 and 16 year-old pupils. Out of the 4408 pupils 7.8% (males: 4.6%, females: 11.6%) of the adolescents reported former suicide attempt, 1.6% of the boys and 3.6% of the girls reported about more than one suicide attempts. According to the statistical analysis the suicidal group greatly differs from the non-suicidal one. Suicidal adolescents were more likely to use alcohol, drugs or nicotine than their non-suicidal peers. Drug abuse was four times more common among suicidal boys, and five times more common among suicidal girls than in the non-suicidal group. 30% of the boys and 13% of the girls used more than one kind of drug. The use of ecstasy and sedatohypnotic drugs showed the most spectacular difference between suicidal and non-suicidal teenagers in both genders. Suicide attempters usually had higher scores in scales measuring anxiety, depression, impulsivity, while their self-esteem was significantly lower. The comparative analysis has revealed that suicide attempters compose a subgroup with more severe psychopathology (anxiety, depression, and impulsivity), lower self-esteem and ineffective coping strategies. Suicidal behavior frequently appeared with addictive problems. The results of our study may help in recognizing the role of risk factors coexisting with suicidal behavior and thus making it easier for schools to have adequate and effective prevention programs.

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