Longitudinal trajectories of suicidal ideation and subsequent suicide attempts among adolescent inpatients

Ewa K Czyz, Cheryl A King
Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology 2015, 44 (1): 181-93
A period of particularly high risk for suicide attempts among adolescent inpatients is within 12 months after discharge. However, little is known about longitudinal trajectories of suicidal ideation in this high-risk group and how these relate to posthospitalization suicide attempts and rehospitalizations. Our objectives were to identify these trajectories and examine their relationships with posthospitalization psychiatric crises. We also examined predictors of trajectory group membership. Participants (N = 376; ages 13-17; 72% female) were assessed at hospitalization and 3, 6, and 12 months later. Trajectory groups, and their predictors, were identified with latent class growth modeling. We used logistic regression to examine associations between trajectory groups and likelihood of suicide attempts and rehospitalization, controlling for attempt history. Three trajectory groups were identified: (a) subclinical ideators (31.6%), (b) elevated ideators with rapidly declining ideation (57.4%), and (c) chronically elevated ideators (10.9%). Adolescents in the chronically elevated ideation group had 2.29, confidence interval (CI) [1.08, 4.85], p = .03, and 4.15, CI [1.65, 10.44], p < .01, greater odds of attempting suicide and 3.23, CI [1.37, 7.69], p = .01, and 11.20, CI [4.33, 29.01], p < .001, greater odds of rehospitalization relative to rapidly declining and subclinical groups, respectively. Higher baseline hopelessness was associated with persisting suicidal ideation. Results suggest that suicidal ideation severity at hospitalization may not be an adequate marker for subsequent suicidal crises. It is important to identify adolescents vulnerable to persisting suicidal ideation, as they are at highest risk of psychiatric crises. Addressing hopelessness may facilitate faster declines in ideation after hospitalization. Results also highlight a need for consistent monitoring of these adolescents' suicidal ideation after discharge.

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