There is an urgent need for immediate identification of suicidal behavior in adolescents and young adults to prevent or diminish the impact of reoccurring patterns of suicidal behaviors, according study results published in JAMA Network Open.
The researchers conducted a cross-sectional study of a sample of 1,180 adolescents and young adults aged 14 to 21 years in Dresden, Germany from October 2018 to March 2019. Of the 1,180 participants, 51.7% were male.
“Lifetime suicidal behavior was assessed in all participants using an updated version of the fully standardized computer-assisted Munich-Composite International Diagnostic Interview,” Catharina Voss, MSc, of Technische Universität Dresden, Germany, and colleagues wrote.
According to the findings, 130 participants reported lifetime suicidal ideation, 65 reported suicidal plans and 41reported attempts. Lifetime prevalence was significantly higher among female participants for suicidal ideation and plan, but not attempt. The cumulative incidence at 21 years of age was 13.5% for any type of suicidal behavior, 12.7% for ideation, 6.6% for plan and 4% for attempt. At 10 years of age, incidence rates for any suicidal behavior were very low, and increased slightly until reaching 12 years of age and then sharply rose from 12 years of age to 20.
Among patients with suicidal ideation, 66% had persistent or recurrent ideation for more than 1 year. In addition, among those with lifetime suicidal ideation, 47% reported a suicide plan and 23.9% reported an attempt. Transition to plan or attempt occurred mainly within the first year after ideation onset.
“With these findings, the current study extends the knowledge on suicidal behavior derived by the limited number of previous studies in the critical age span of adolescence.”
The time from age 12 to 16 years showed to be the first crucial risk phase, with significantly high incidence at ages 13 and 14 years. Because adolescence and young adulthood are critical developmental periods for the onset of suicidal behavior, the need for immediate short-term interventions to prevent the escalation of suicidal behavior, according to the researchers. –By Erin T. Welsh
Disclosure: Voss reports no relevant financial disclosures. Please see the full study for all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.