Gender, stressful events, early parenthood predict adolescent suicidality
Gender, stressful life events and early parenthood are strong predictors of adolescent suicidality, a new study has shown.
The study included datasets from two longitudinal studies: The National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth (NLSCY) and the Avon Longitudinal Survey of Parents and Children (ALSPAC). The final sample size was 4,700. A Classification and Regression Tree (CART) model was built from the NLSCY cohort and validated in the ALSPAC cohort.
The primary outcome of the study was positive responses to questions about suicidal thoughts. Secondary outcomes included antisocial behaviour, substance abuse, poor physical health, poor mental health, poor academic performance and participation in risky health behaviours.
The overall weighted prevalence of suicidal thoughts was 12.0 percent in NLSCY cohort. CART showed that gender was the most powerful predictor of suicidal ideation. Stressful life events were the strongest predictor in females while early parental age was the strongest predictor in males.
Single parenthood, blended family composition, exposure to parental smoking, parental medical problems, lack of breast feeding and parental use of over-the-counter medications were also important predictors of suicidality.
The sensitivity and specificity of the model was 22.7 (95 percent CI, 19.4 to 26.1) and 89.2 (88.4 to 90.0) percent, respectively, while its positive and negative predictive values were 17.8 (15.1 to 20.50) and 91.8 (91.2 to 92.6) percent, respectively.
Validation against the ALSPAC cohort yielded a sensitivity and specificity of 19.9 (16.9 to 22.8) and 88.0 (87.0 to 89.0) percent, respectively. The resulting corresponding positive and negative predictive values were 22.5 (19.2 to 25.8) and 86.3 (85.2 to 87.3) percent.