Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 47, Issue 2, pp 333–344 | Cite as

Brooding, Inattention, and Impulsivity as Predictors of Adolescent Suicidal Ideation

  • Katherine L. SarkisianEmail author
  • Carol A. Van Hulle
  • H. Hill Goldsmith


Although suicide remains a leading cause of death for adolescents, risk factors beyond diagnoses and suicide attempt history remain unclear. We examined whether cognitive style and temperament impact risk for an early, yet still clinically relevant and distressing, form of suicidality: active suicidal ideation. We used binary logistic regression to test whether brooding, inattention, and impulsivity predicted significantly increased risk for suicidal ideation in a sample of 134 twins, 46 of whom endorsed active suicidal ideation (i.e., probands), as well as probands’ cotwins and matched controls. When comparing probands with controls and controlling for depression diagnoses, brooding (B = 0.73, Odds Ratio [OR] = 2.07, p = 0.021), inattention (B = 1.09, OR = 2.98, p < 0.001), and impulsivity (B = 0.91, OR = 2.47, p = 0.001) differentiated probands from controls, individually. We compared probands with their cotwins using the same approach, which allowed us to account for variance in suicidal ideation risk related to twins’ shared, familial characteristics (e.g., prenatal environment, neighborhood); inattention was the only significant predictor of suicidal ideation risk (B = 0.66, OR = 1.93, p = 0.020). We then fit a logistic regression model that included all three predictors. Only inattention predicted significantly increased likelihood of suicidal ideation in proband versus controls and proband versus cotwin comparisons (B = 0.88, OR = 2.40, p = 0.024 and B = 0.67, OR = 1.96, p = 0.045, respectively). These results highlight the potential utility of examining novel, more proximal risk factors for suicidal ideation in addition to more established distal factors, like suicide attempt history and psychiatric diagnoses.


Suicidal ideation Suicide Brooding Inattention Impulsivity 



This work was supported by the following grants from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH): R01 MH101504, R37 MH050560, P50 MH100031, R01 MH059785 to Goldsmith. Infrastructure support was provided by the Waisman Center via core grants from The National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD) P30 HD003352 and U54 HD090256.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Supplementary material

10802_2018_435_MOESM1_ESM.docx (19 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 18 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katherine L. Sarkisian
    • 1
    Email author
  • Carol A. Van Hulle
    • 2
  • H. Hill Goldsmith
    • 1
  1. 1.Waisman Center & Department of PsychologyUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA
  2. 2.Waisman CenterUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA

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