A 2-4 year follow up of depressive symptoms, suicidal ideation, and suicide attempts among adolescent psychiatric inpatients

T Ivarsson, B Larsson, C Gillberg
European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry 1998, 7 (2): 96-104
One hundred eleven (58%) of 191 adolescent inpatients previously admitted to the emergency wards at the Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics in the cities of Uppsala and Göteborg participated in a 2-4 year follow-up evaluation. The prevalence, incidence, and stability of depressive symptoms, suicidal ideation, and suicide attempts among the adolescents, and predictors of follow-up functioning were examined. Although a majority of the patients substantially reduced their depressive symptoms over the 2-4 year period, a smaller group (13%), mainly girls (94%), continued reporting high symptom levels at follow-up, and one out of five adolescents had moderate-severe levels of suicidal ideation. The accumulated frequency of suicide attempts among the patients shortly prior to hospitalization and during the follow-up was 59% including two patients who committed suicide. Significant predictors of depressive symptom severity at follow-up were depressive symptom scores and V-diagnoses at inpatient assessment. Previous suicide attempts before hospitalization, high levels of self-reported depressive symptoms and nonintact family status at inpatient assessment predicted suicide attempts during the follow-up period. The high prevalence of attempted and completed suicide in this clinical group underscores the importance of developing effective treatments for suicidal adolescents.

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