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New Study Examines Victimization as Motivator in Adolescent Suicide Ideation

A new study published in the Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine this week examined the effects of recent victimization – such as peer harassment and parental maltreatment – as catalysts for suicide ideation in young people.

Recent Victimization Exposure and Suicidal Ideation in Adolescents” used data collected from 2008 to 2010 from a national sample of 1,186 young people, ages 10 to 17. According to researchers, young people were 4.4 times likelier to think about attempting suicide if they had experienced maltreatment by a parent or guardian than the general youth population, while young people that experienced peer victimization and sexual assault were, respectively, 2.4 times and 3.4 times likelier to have suicidal thoughts than their peers.

The study indicates that “polyvictims” – adolescents that were exposed to 7 or more types of victimization over the past year – were the greatest population of young people at risk for suicide ideation, with those affected by “polyvictimization” reporting suicidal thoughts at a rate six times higher than non-victimized young people.

According to the study, approximately one in 23 respondents reported having suicidal thoughts over the year-long data collection period.

“Findings point to the importance of recent victimization in increasing risk of suicidal ideation in adolescents,” the report concludes. “And suggest the need for victimization assessments among all youth who are believed to be at risk for suicidal ideation.”

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