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Suicidality in Black American Youth Living in Impoverished Neighborhoods: Is School Connectedness a Protective Factor?


Suicidality is a significant public health issue for adolescents (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Leading causes of death reports, national and regional, 1999–2015, 2015). Cultural factors such as gender, race, and poverty may place some adolescents at an increased risk for suicidality. The school context has been offered as a setting that may serve as an effective prevention and intervention point for buffering suicidality. Given that adolescents spend a significant amount of time at school, school connectedness, or the sense of belonging to a school community, may be a significant and positive protective factor against social isolation. Undergirded by Joiner’s (Why people die by suicide, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 2005; The interpersonal-psychological theory of suicidal behavior: current empirical status, 2009) interpersonal theory of suicide, the current investigation explores the relation between suicidality (i.e., suicide ideations and attempts) and school connectedness. Using a large longitudinal data set (N = 2335), results of two logistic growth models found that school connectedness serves as a strong protective factor for suicidality among Black American adolescents living in impoverished neighborhoods. Results showed that school connectedness reduced the probability of suicide ideations and attempts over time and for both females and males. Implications for theory, practice, and research are discussed.

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Correspondence to Sara Tomek.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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

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Tomek, S., Burton, S., Hooper, L.M. et al. Suicidality in Black American Youth Living in Impoverished Neighborhoods: Is School Connectedness a Protective Factor?. School Mental Health 10, 1–11 (2018).

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  • School connectedness
  • Suicide ideation
  • Suicide attempts
  • Impoverished neighborhoods
  • Black American adolescents
  • Joiner’s interpersonal theory of suicide