The 130th Annual Meeting of APHA

5079.0: Wednesday, November 13, 2002 - 1:24 PM

Abstract #45216

Multi-problem youth face extreme suicide risk

Dexter Maurice Taylor, PhD and Ted R. Miller, PhD. Public Services Research Institute, Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, Calverton Office Park, 11710 Beltsville Drive, Suite 300, Calverton, MD 20705-3102, 301-755-2796,

Youth suicide is a major, growing U.S. problem. Several studies find ATOD and related health-risk behaviors independently correlate with suicidal behavior. None, however, directly relate multi-problem behavior with suicidal behavior.

We analyzed 1999 Youth Risk Behavior Survey self-reports of three suicide risks: ideation, attempt, and medically-treated attempt. Using accepted definitions, we identified smoking, binge drinking, drugging, violence, and high-risk sexual behavior. Logistic regressions examined the relationship between suicidal behavior and these problems while controlling for demographic factors and accounting for the YRBS sample design.

A strong dose-response relationship emerged between the number of problem behaviors and suicide risk. Logistic regression showed the odds of a medically-treated suicide attempt rose from 1.0 with no problems to 3.1 with one, 7.8 with two, 20.5 with three, 22.6 with four, and 85.0 with five. Suicide ideation and attempt odds rose with the number of problems too, but less sharply. The odds of moving from ideation to attempt to treated attempt related strongly to the number of problems. Among youth with five problems, 26% attempted suicide in the past year. Suicide risk related primarily to the number of problem behaviors, not their nature. Controlling for number of problems, high risk sexual behavior significantly raised suicide risk and binge drinking moderated it.

Learning Objectives: Conclusions/Objectives

Keywords: Adolescent Health, Suicide

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

Risky Business: Alcohol, Sex, Cars, and Death

The 130th Annual Meeting of APHA