A Prospective Investigation of Suicide Ideation, Attempts, and Use of Mental Health Service Among Adolescents in Substance Abuse Treatment

Published In: Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, v. 22, no. 4, Dec. 2008, p. 524-532

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 2007

by Rajeev Ramchand, Beth Ann Griffin, Katherine M. Harris, Daniel F. McCaffrey, Andrew R. Morral

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This study examined suicide ideation, attempts, and subsequent mental health service among a sample of 948 youth from substance abuse treatment facilities across the United States. Youth were surveyed at intake and every 3 months for a 1-year period. Thirty percent of youth reported ideating in at least one interview, and 12% reported attempting suicide; almost half of all youth reported receiving outpatient mental health treatment at least once, and close to one-third of all youth reported being on prescription drugs for an emotional or behavioral problem. Higher levels of conduct disorder symptoms were associated with both ideation and attempts, while higher levels of depressive symptoms and being female were associated with ideation only. Among all youth, older youth were less likely to receive outpatient and prescription drug treatment, and Black and Hispanic youth were less likely to receive prescription drug treatment than White youth. Among youth who reported ideating, those with conduct disorder were less likely to receive prescription drug treatment 3 months later. These findings emphasize a high prevalence of suicide risk behavior in substance abuse treatment programs and provide insight into the specialized treatment youth in substance abuse treatment at risk for suicide currently receive.

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