Suicide among Female Adolescents: Characteristics and Comparison with Males in the Age Group 13 to 22 Years

National Public Health Institute, Department of Mental Health, Helsinki, Finland.
Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (Impact Factor: 7.26). 11/1995; 34(10):1297-307. DOI: 10.1097/00004583-199510000-00015
Source: PubMed


To characterize female suicides (n = 19) in an unselected nationwide youth suicide population aged 13 to 22 years (n = 116) and to compare them with male suicides with respect to variables indicating psychopathology and psychosocial functioning.
The data were collected in a psychological autopsy study of all suicides (N = 1,397) in Finland during a 12-month period. Data collection included interviews of next of kin and professionals and information from records after the suicide.
Two thirds (68%) of the female victims had suffered from a mood disorder, and 73% had communicated their suicidal intent. Half (47%) of the female subjects had been in psychiatric care at some point in their lives, and 42% had been hospitalized. Compared with young male suicides, the young female victims more often had made previous suicide attempts (63% versus 30%), received more often a diagnosis of major depression (37% versus 14%), and had more often been in psychiatric care (47% versus 21%) during the year preceding the suicide. The females were more often incapable of working, and their psychosocial impairment was more severe during the final week. Alcohol abuse was almost as common among the female as the male victims (21% versus 26%).
The results suggest that young females who commit suicide may have suffered from more severe psychopathology than young male victims. Substance abuse seems to be a major factor also in female suicides. Preventive efforts within psychiatric care are likely to reach a higher proportion of the young females than males at high risk for suicide.

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    • "This finding is supported by previous studies indicating a strong link between suicidal acts and low self-disclosure abilities (Horesh and Apter, 2006). Psychological autopsy studies show that most suicides occur in those with an untreated psychiatric illness (Marttunen et al., 1995; Moskos et al., 2005). This limited help-seeking behavior of suicidal soldiers stands in contrast to the moderate to severe mental disorders found following the suicide attempt in the majority of this group (77.6%), mostly personality and adjustment disorders. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background: Suicide is the leading cause of death in most armies during peace-time. The recent dramatic rise in suicides in the US Army further focuses attention on the causes of suicidal behavior in the military. Methods: This study investigated demographic characteristics, psychological profile and stress-related risk factors associated with suicide attempts in Israelis aged 18-21 years, who served in the Army in 2009. Soldiers who attempted suicide (N=60) were compared to soldiers treated by a mental health professional, but reported no suicidal behavior (N=58), and to controls (N=50). Results: Suicide attempters had lower socioeconomic status and less cognitive ability compared with treated soldiers and untreated control soldiers. Only 25% of the suicide attempters had received mental healthcare prior to the attempt. The majority of the attempts were non-lethal (86.2%), and only 5.2% used firearms. Attempters had more previous suicide attempts (37.9%) and deliberate selfharm incidents (19.3%), compared to almost no such behaviors in the other two groups. Following the suicide attempt, 77% were diagnosed with moderate to severe mental disorders, 44.8% personality disorders and 8.6% mood disorders. Attempters reported higher levels of general stress compared to their peers in the other two groups. Being away from home and obeying authority were especially more stressful in attempters. Conclusions: Young soldiers are less prone to seek mental health assistance, despite suffering from higher levels of stress. Screening is required to detect soldiers at risk for suicidal behavior and preventive intervention will require active outreach.
    Full-text · Article · May 2013 · Journal of Affective Disorders
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    • "We investigated psychiatric symptoms in medical records from psychiatrist-conducted interviews of all participants or their parents as well as from information about any prior psychiatric treatments. Previous studies have reported that the frequency of BPD in female adolescents who committed suicide was 26% [36] and that it was 33% in individuals 15–29 years old [37]. The result of the present study, that BPD was the second most common diagnosis for female adolescents, supported previous studies reporting that BPD was relatively frequently associated with suicide attempts and completed suicides among adolescents. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background Suicide is the leading cause of death among Japanese adolescents, and they may commit suicide differently from adults. However, there are few studies in medical-based data concerning adolescent patients seriously attempting suicide. We aimed to explore the characteristics of serious suicide attempts in Japanese adolescents, comparing them with those in adults. Methods We investigated adolescents who seriously attempted suicide and were treated at the Critical Care Medical Center (CCMC) of Nippon Medical School Hospital between 2000 and 2010, and we compared them with adult suicide attempters treated during 2009. We retrospectively studied medical records and collected clinical data and socio-demographic factors, including age, sex, psychiatric symptoms or diagnosis, methods of suicide attempt, motives for suicide attempt, previous deliberate self-harm, previous psychiatric history, parent loss experience, and previous psychiatric history in the family. Results Adolescent attempters were 15 males and 44 females, 13 to 18 years old (mean 16.39). Adult attempters were 37 males and 65 females, 19 to 79 years old (mean 39.45). In comparison to adult attempters, adolescent attempters were more frequently diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), had more school problems and parent loss experience, but they had less financial problems. Gender differences between adolescents and adults were examined, and male adolescent attempters were found to be more frequently diagnosed with schizophrenia and had less financial problems than their adult counterparts, while female adolescent attempters were more frequently diagnosed with BPD, had more school problems and parent loss, but they had less previous psychiatric history than their adult counterparts. Conclusions Our findings indicated that adolescent attempters were more frequently diagnosed with BPD and had more school problems and parent loss experience but had less financial problems. Additionally, in male adolescent attempters, identifying patients with schizophrenia seemed important, as it was their most frequent psychiatric diagnosis. For female adolescents, adequately assessing family function and interpersonal conflicts seemed important, as they were more often diagnosed with BPD and had more school and family problems.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2012 · BMC Psychiatry
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    • "On the other hand, lack of openness to experience was not related to attempted suicide in depressed older adults (Duberstein et al., 2000) and was even found to be inversely associated with reported suicidal ideation (Heisel et al., 2006), indicating that risk factors for suicidal ideation, attempt, and death by suicide may differ. The presence of a personality disorder has been associated with suicide attempts and death by suicide among older adults (Harwood et al., 2001), although the prevalence of personality disorders among elders who attempt or die by suicide is lower than the figures reported for younger age groups (Appleby, 1999; Harwood et al., 2001; Marttunen, 1995). A recent study of older adults with major depressive disorder found that dependent personality disorder in men and antisocial personality disorder in women increased the odds of suicide attempt, although borderline and narcissistic personality disorders were not assessed (Bolton et al., 2008). "
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    ABSTRACT: Social networks may protect depressed elders against suicidal behavior. However, conflict in important relationships may undermine the sense of social support, potentially negating the protective effects. Thus, we investigated the role of chronic interpersonal difficulties and perceived social support in depressed elders with and without suicidal thoughts and attempts. 106 individuals aged 60 years and older participated in this cross-sectional, case-control study. They were placed in three groups: suicidal depressed, non-suicidal depressed and non-depressed. Following a detailed clinical characterization, we assessed perceived social support (Interpersonal Support Evaluation List), and chronic interpersonal difficulties (Inventory of Interpersonal Problems). Using general linear models, we explored the relationship between suicidal thoughts/attempts, social support, and chronic interpersonal difficulties. We also examined whether lower perceived social support explained the relationship between chronic interpersonal difficulties and suicidal thoughts/attempts. Suicidal depressed elders reported the lowest levels of perceived social support (belonging, tangible support, and self-esteem) and higher levels of chronic interpersonal difficulties (struggle against others and interpersonal hostility), compared to both non-suicidal depressed and non-depressed elders. The relationship between chronic interpersonal difficulties and suicidal behavior was partially explained by low perceived social support. The experience of strong affects, interpersonal struggle, and hostility in relationships may undermine the sense of social support in depressed elders, possibly leading them to contemplate or attempt suicide. Depressed elders with a history of interpersonal difficulties need to be carefully monitored for suicidal behavior.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2009 · International Psychogeriatrics
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