Longitudinal risk factors for suicidal thoughts in depressed and non-depressed young adolescents

Yi Ju Pan, Kai Dih Juang, Shiang Ru Lu, Shih Pin Chen, Yen Feng Wang, Jong Ling Fuh, Shuu Jiun Wang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Objective: Evidence regarding the role of risk factors in the longitudinal course of suicidal ideation among young adolescents is lacking. We aimed to assess the effects of a range of risk factors, including obesity, academic performance, child-parent relationship, physical maltreatment, and depressive symptoms, on the development of suicidal ideation in young adolescents. Methods: A school cohort of seventh and eighth graders was followed for 1 year and differences in the risk factors distributions were examined between depressed and non-depressed adolescents. We further examined risk factors for newly developed suicidal ideation and persistent suicidal ideation in the groups of adolescents based on the presence of suicidal ideation at baseline. Results: A total of 1710 young adolescents were recruited, among whom 8.2% were categorised as having clinically significant depression. For depressed adolescents, being obese was associated with a three-fold increased risk of having suicidal ideation. For non-depressed adolescents, physical maltreatment, a feeling of not being cared about and sub-threshold depressive symptoms were the risk factors. The latter two remained robust in predicting newly developed suicidal ideation. Conclusion: The current study may shed light on the differential strategies to address suicidal thoughts in depressed and non-depressed adolescents. We emphasise the importance of recognition and management of sub-threshold depressive symptoms and the relevance of obesity, physical maltreatment and a feeling of not being cared about to suicide prevention programmes in early adolescence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)930-937
Number of pages8
JournalAustralian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2017


  • adolescents
  • child-parent relationship
  • obesity
  • sub-threshold depression
  • Suicide


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