Twelve-month suicidal symptoms and use of services among adolescents: results from the National Comorbidity Survey

Mathilde M Husky, Mark Olfson, Jian-ping He, Matthew K Nock, Sonja Alsemgeest Swanson, Kathleen Ries Merikangas
Psychiatric Services: a Journal of the American Psychiatric Association 2012, 63 (10): 989-96

OBJECTIVE: The study assessed the prevalence of suicidal ideation, suicide plans, and suicide attempts as well as patterns of mental health service use among adolescents.

METHODS: Data came from the National Comorbidity Survey–Adolescent Supplement, a nationally representative sample of 10,123 adolescents aged 13 to 18 years who participated in computer-assisted, face-to-face interviews between February 2001 and January 2004. Prevalences of suicidal thoughts and behaviors in the past year were determined. Past-year use of any mental health treatment and receipt of four or more visits from one provider among youths with suicidal ideation, plans, or attempts were also assessed. Associations were evaluated by using logistic regression.

RESULTS: During the course of 12 months, 3.6% of adolescents reported suicidal ideation without a plan or attempt, .6% reported a suicide plan without an attempt, and 1.9% made a suicide attempt. Overall, two-thirds of adolescents with suicidal ideation (67.3%) and half of those with a plan (54.4%) or attempt (56.9%) did not have any contact with a mental health specialist in the past year. Different predictors of use of care were identified for each group.

CONCLUSIONS: Adolescent suicidality often is untreated in the United States. Increased outreach efforts to improve treatment access for youths with suicidal ideation and attempts are needed.

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