In order to accurately identify youth at risk for suicide, it remains crucial to explore the interplay of risk factors that predict suicidal behavior. Thus, the purpose of this study was to explore whether social functioning, a putative risk factor, would be positively associated with symptoms of depression and anxiety in youth with a history of suicide attempts. Additionally, it was postulated that poor social functioning would mediate the relation between depression, anxiety symptoms, and a higher frequency of suicidal ideation among this population. A sample of youth (ages 10–17) with a history of suicide attempts was recruited for this study (N = 507) from three behavioral health clinics in Georgia. Data from this study consisted of questionnaires and clinician-based ratings collected on electronic medical records. Results supported the hypothesis that there is a positive correlation between poor social functioning, depressive, and anxiety symptoms. Furthermore, social functioning mediated the relation between these symptoms and a higher frequency of suicidal ideation. Given the findings of this study, it bears importance to explore how social functioning may impact the onset of suicidal ideation and behavior broadly in youth at risk for suicide. Perhaps designing interventions that improve social functioning among youth with symptoms and anxiety and depression will mitigate future suicide risk.
Poor social functioning mediates the relation between symptoms of anxiety and depression and suicidal ideation.
Recognizing poor social functioning as a risk factor for suicide can aid in more effective prediction and intervention.
Effective interventions for poor social functioning should target symptoms of anxiety and depression as these constructs are related.
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This article was developed, in part, under Garrett Lee Smith grant number 1H9SM062896-01 from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) awarded to the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD). The views, opinions, and content of this publication are those of the authors and contributors, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or policies of CMHS.
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Freitag, S., Bolstad, C.J., Nadorff, M.R. et al. Social Functioning Mediates the Relation Between Symptoms of Depression, Anxiety, and Suicidal Ideation Among Youth. J Child Fam Stud 31, 1318–1327 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-021-02088-x
- Social functioning