To evaluate the reliability of using certain indicators derived from human figure drawings to distinguish between suicidal and nonsuicidal adolescents.
Ninety consecutive admissions to an adolescent inpatient unit were assessed. Thirty-nine patients were admitted because of suicidal behavior and 51 for other reasons. All subjects were given the Human Figure Drawing (HFD) test. HFD was evaluated according to the method of Pfeffer and Richman, and the degree of suicidal behavior was rated by the Child Suicide Potential Scale.
The internal reliability was satisfactory. HFD indicators correlated significantly with quantitative measures of suicidal behavior; of these indicators specifically, overall impression of the evaluator enabled the prediction of suicidal behavior and the distinction between suicidal and nonsuicidal inpatients (p < .001). A group of graphic indicators derived from a discriminant analysis formed a function, which was able to identify 84.6% of the suicidal and 76.6% of the nonsuicidal adolescents correctly. Many of the items had a regressive quality.
The HFD is an example of a simple projective test that may have empirical reliability. It may be useful for the assessment of severe suicidal behavior in adolescents.
Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry 08/2000; 39(8):1024-31. DOI:10.1097/00004583-200008000-00018 · 6.35 Impact Factor