Co-occurring risk behaviors among White, Black, and Hispanic US high school adolescents with suicide attempts requiring medical attention, 1999–2007: Implications for future prevention initiatives

  • Juan B. Pena
  • Monica M. Matthieu
  • Luis H. Zayas
  • Katherine E. Masyn
  • Eric D. Caine
Original Paper



To identify subtypes of adolescent suicide attempters by examining risk profiles related to substance use, violent behavior, and depressive symptoms. To examine the relationship between these subtypes and having had two or more suicide attempts during the past year. To explore race and gender differences across subtypes of suicide attempters.


Data were combined from five nationally representative cohorts of the US Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) and focused on a subpopulation of youth who reported a suicide attempt requiring medical attention. Latent class analysis was used to identify subtypes of suicide attempters.


Analysis yielded three classes of youth who attempted suicide, distinguishable by their levels of substance use and violent behaviors: low substance use and violent behaviors, high substance use and violent behaviors, and extreme substance use and violent behaviors. All three classes had a high propensity for endorsing depressive symptoms. The proportion of youth with two or more suicide attempts during the past year increased across subgroup of attempters with higher levels of substance use and violent behaviors. Racial and gender differences were found across subtypes of suicide attempters.


Preventing and treating the co-occurrence of substance use and violent behaviors may serve as essential strategies for reducing suicide attempts, especially among male youth. The use of public health strategies for suicide prevention should take into account the different needs of youth at risk for suicide.


Suicide attempted Adolescent Prevention Health status disparities Risk-taking 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Juan B. Pena
    • 1
  • Monica M. Matthieu
    • 1
  • Luis H. Zayas
    • 1
  • Katherine E. Masyn
    • 2
  • Eric D. Caine
    • 3
  1. 1.Washington University in St. LouisSt. LouisUSA
  2. 2.Harvard University, Graduate School of EducationCambridgeUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of Rochester Medical CenterRochesterUSA

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