Suicidal thoughts in low-income adolescents: a longitudinal analysis

  • C. Thomas FarrellEmail author
  • Zaiba Moledina
  • Madhuri Katta
Original article



The aim of this study was to identify whether suicidal ideation in low-income adolescents is influenced by social environment and social support.


We performed a growth curve model using a sample of 6687 low-income adolescents living in the Mobile, AL Metropolitan Statistical Area. The outcome for the present study was whether the participant had thought about suicide in the past 12 months.


From 1998 to 2011, an average of 14.3% of the study participants indicated that they had considered killing themselves in the past 12 months on an annual basis (11.2–17.6%). Accounting for confounding factors, positive peer support, inevitability of violence, and having moved in the past year resulted in an increased risk, though the effect of inevitability of violence decreased over time. Meanwhile, elevated perceptions of contextual safety and increased parental warmth resulted in reduced risk. These findings suggest that social support and social context are important indicators of suicidal ideation in adolescents.


Suicidal ideation is an important predictor of suicidal behavior. If suicidal ideation can be prevented, or predicted, then it is possible that suicidal behavior can be reduced.


Suicide Social epidemiology Adolescent health Suicidal ideation 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

Institutional review board (IRB) approval was acquired from Western Kentucky University (Ref#: IRB 14-219). All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. For this type of study, formal consent is not required.


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Copyright information

© Swiss School of Public Health (SSPH+) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Public HealthWestern Kentucky UniversityBowling GreenUSA

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