Risk factors for suicidal behavior in adolescence

B. D. Kirkcaldy, G. R. Siefen, J. Urkin, J. Merrick

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Adolescent suicide is today a public health problem among the leading cause of mortality among adolescents and young adults. There seems to be many reasons for this increase (which has different trends in different populations), but associations have been found with increased substance abuse, television and video violence, socio-economic status and easy access to firearms. Gender differences have also been observed with crime, suicide and substance abuse higher among males, while eating disorder, depression and suicidal behavior more prevalent among females. This paper will review prevalence and incidence of adolescent suicidal behavior, socio-demographic and psychological risk factors, associated cognitive factors and socio-economic factors. Risk factors include previous suicide attempts, a history of others in the family who have been suicidal, mental illness, alcohol and drug use, and other self-destructive behaviors as well as consideration being given to hopelessness, hostility, negative self-concept and isolation. At the individual difference level, factors such as trait depression, anger and hostility, perfectionism and social sensitivity would seem critical variables, as would age, gender and intellectual functioning. Sociological and family-related factors may also be implicated including dysfunctional family organizations, a history of physical or psychological abuse (sexual abuse) and limited extent of social support networks. A frequently reported precipitating event of suicidal behavior is family adversity including rejection, separation and Interpersonal conflict. At a socio-economic level it would seem essential to provide comprehensive document about the social and economic conditions from which the adolescent comes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)443-450
Number of pages8
JournalMinerva Pediatrica
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2006


  • Adolescence
  • Risk factors
  • Suicide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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