Suicidal thoughts and depressive feelings amongst Estonian schoolchildren: effect of family relationship and family structure
Depressive feelings and suicidal ideation in a non-clinical sample of adolescents in Estonia were analysed in the context of family structure, mutual relationships amongst family members and schoolchildren’s preferences regarding intimate personal contacts with particular family members. Data from the WHO collaborative study ‘Health Behaviour in School-aged Children 2005/2006’ (HBSC) were used. A representative sample of schoolchildren aged 11, 13 and 15 years completed the semi-structured questionnaire. The analyses included only adolescents living in households with at least one birth parent. The subjects were 4,389 schoolchildren (2,178 boys and 2,211 girls), who were divided into three groups based on: (1) suicidal thoughts, with or without depressive feelings; (2) depressive feelings; and (3) neither suicidal thoughts nor depressive feelings. Multinomial logistic regression was used. The proportion of depressive feelings increased with age for both boys and girls. Girls expressed depressive feelings more frequently than boys from ages 13 and 15 years, and suicidal thoughts from age 15 years. Self-reported satisfaction with relationships in the family reduced the likelihood of depressive feelings and suicidal thoughts. Good communication with the parents reduced the likelihood of suicidal thoughts in all age groups. Adolescents who were satisfied with their family relationships suffered less frequently from depressive feelings and suicidal thoughts. The best environment for an adolescent was a family with both birth parents. Of the adolescents in ‘non-intact’ families, those with a step-parent in the family showed suicidal thoughts more frequently than those in single-parent families. Associations between family-related variables and suicidal thoughts were significant even after adjusting for family economic deprivation score.
KeywordsDepressive feelings Suicidal thoughts Adolescent Relationships in family Economic deprivation
This study was made possible within the framework of the Estonian Science Foundation’s Project No. 7132 and Doctoral School of Estonian Centre of Behavioural and Health Sciences. HBSC is an international study carried out in collaboration with WHO/EURO. The International Coordinator of the HBSC 2005/06 survey was Candace Currie and the data bank manager was Oddrun Samdal. Thanks are due to Clare James for her thorough linguistic and stylistic revision of the manuscript.
- 3.Wasserman D (2001) A stress-vulnerability model and the development of the suicidal process. In: Wasserman D (ed) Suicide—an unnecessary death. Martin Dunitz Ltd, London, pp 13–28Google Scholar
- 4.Kaltiala-Heino R, Rimpela M, Marttunen M, Rimpela A, Rantanen P (1999) Bullying, depression, and suicidal ideation in Finnish adolescents: school survey. Br Med J 319:348–351Google Scholar
- 18.Wasserman D (2006) Depression in childhood and adolescence. Wasserman D (ed) Depression: the facts. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 43–61Google Scholar
- 23.Cauce AM, Mason C, Gonzales N, Hiraga Y, Liu G (1996) Social support during adolescence: methodological and theoretical considerations. In: Hurrelmann K, Hamilton SF (eds) Social problems and social contexts in adolescence: perspectives across boundaries. Aldine de Gryter, New York, pp 131–152Google Scholar
- 29.Currie C, Gabhainn SN, Godeau E, Roberts C, Smith R, Currie D, Picket W, Richter M, Morgan A, Barnekow V (2008) Inequalities in young people’s health: HBSC international report from the 2005/2006 Survey. WHO Regional Office for Europe, Copenhagen, 2008 (Health Policy Child and Adolesc No. 5)Google Scholar
- 30.Sabbath JC (1969) The suicidal adolescent: the expendable child. In: Maltsberger JT, Goldblatt MJ (eds) Essential papers on suicide. New York University Press, New York, pp 185–199Google Scholar
- 31.Varnik A, Kolves K, Allik J, Arensman E, Aromaa E, van Audenhove C, Bouleau JH, van der Feltz-Cornelis CM, Giupponi G, Gusmao R, Kopp M, Marusic A, Maxwell M, Oskarsson H, Palmer A, Pull C, Realo A, Reisch T, Schmidtke A, Sola VP, Wittenburg L, Hegerl U (2009) Gender issues in suicide rates, trends and methods among youths aged 15–24 in 15 European countries. J Affect Disord 13:216–226CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 33.Currie C, Samdal O, Boyce W (2001) Health behaviour in school-aged children: a World Health Organization cross-national Study Research Protocol for the 2001/2002 survey. Child and Adolescent Health Research Unit, University of Edinburgh, EdinburghGoogle Scholar
- 48.Kennedy GE, Kennedy CE (1993) Grandparents: a special resource for children in stepfamilies. The stepfamily puzzle: intergenerational influences. Haworth Press Inc, NYGoogle Scholar