Posttraumatic growth and reduced suicidal ideation among adolescents at month 1 after the Sichuan Earthquake

Xiao-nan Yu, Joseph T F Lau, Jianxin Zhang, Winnie W S Mak, Kai Chow Choi, Wacy W S Lui, Jianxin Zhang, Emily Y Y Chan
Journal of Affective Disorders 2010, 123 (1): 327-31

BACKGROUND: This study investigated posttraumatic growth (PTG) and reduced suicidal ideation among Chinese adolescents at one month after the occurrence of the Sichuan Earthquake.

METHODS: A cross-sectional survey was administered to 3324 high school students in Chengdu, Sichuan. The revised Posttraumatic Growth Inventory for Children and the Children's Revised Impact of Event Scale assessed PTG and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), respectively.

RESULTS: Multivariate analysis showed that being in junior high grade 2, having probable PTSD, visiting affected areas, possessing a perceived sense of security from teachers, and being exposed to touching news reports and encouraging news reports were associated with probable PTG; the reverse was true for students in senior high grade 1 or senior high grade 2 who had experienced prior adversities. Among the 623 students (19.3% of all students) who had suicidal ideation prior to the earthquake, 57.4% self-reported reduced suicidal ideation when the pre-earthquake and post-earthquake situations were compared. Among these 623 students, the multivariate results showed that being females, perceived sense of security obtained from teachers and exposure to encouraging news reports were factors associated with reduced suicidal ideation; the reverse was true for experience of pre-earthquake corporal punishment and worry about severe earthquakes in the future.

LIMITATIONS: The study population was not directly hit by the earthquake. This study is cross-sectional and no baseline data were collected prior to the occurrence of the earthquake.

CONCLUSIONS: The earthquake resulted in PTG and reduced suicidal ideation among adolescents. PTSD was associated with PTG. Special attention should be paid to teachers' support, contents of media reports, and students' experience of prior adversities.

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