Adolescent Research Review

, Volume 3, Issue 2, pp 123–154 | Cite as

Suicidal Thoughts and Behavior in Children and Adolescents: An Ecological Model of Resilience

  • Michelle L. Gallagher
  • Adam Bryant MillerEmail author
Systematic Review


There has been increasing interest in the identification of factors that promote resilience to suicidal thoughts and behaviors in high-risk youth. The present review summarizes and critiques the current literature on protective factors that promote resilience to suicidal thoughts and behaviors in those children and adolescents who are at high risk for these outcomes. In contrast to earlier work on this topic, which primarily focused on internal, psychological protective factors, the current review articulates an ecological model of resilience in youth that spans multiple domains, including the individual, parents, family, friends, peers, school, community, and culture. This model encompasses individual assets such as problem-solving ability and emotion regulation as well as ecological resources such as parent–child relationship quality, family functioning, peer acceptance, supportive school climate, and engagement in meaningful activities and interests. The present review suggests that future research on resilience to suicidality in youth may benefit from taking a multi-dimensional approach that is grounded in current theories on suicidal thoughts and behavior. The results also suggest that suicide prevention and intervention programs for youth may benefit from a domain-spanning approach that helps teens to enhance their connection to friends, family, and community while teaching them vital internal coping skills.


Children Adolescents Youth Suicide Suicide attempt Suicidal ideation 



Mitchell J. Prinstein, Deborah J. Jones, and Eric A. Youngstrom (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) for consultation regarding the design and implementation of the review, and for the provision of comments on the initial manuscript. Support was provided by National Institutes of Mental Health (NIH) Grant F32MH108238 awarded to Adam Bryant Miller.

Author Contributions

MG conceived of the review, participated in its design and coordination, and drafted the initial manuscript. ABM contributed to data interpretation and to the writing and editing of the final manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA

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