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Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 29, Issue 4, pp 281–291 | Cite as

Low Self-Esteem and Hopelessness in Childhood and Suicidal Ideation in Early Adulthood

  • Rob McGee
  • Sheila Williams
  • Shyamala Nada-Raja
Article

Abstract

This study examined the longitudinal relationship between family characteristics in early childhood, self-esteem, hopelessness and thoughts of self-harm in the midchildhood years, and suicidal ideation at ages 18 and 21. Path analysis was used to establish separate models for boys and girls. The results suggested different pathways to later suicidal ideation for boys and girls. For boys, suicidal ideation seemed to have stronger roots in childhood, with significant paths from low self-esteem and hopelessness to early thoughts of self-harm and thence to later ideation. For girls, self-esteem had a small but significant direct effect on later suicidal ideation. The findings provide support for the idea that individual characteristics such as feelings of hopelessness and low self-esteem act as “generative mechanisms,” linking early childhood family characteristics to suicidal ideation in early adulthood.

self-esteem hopelessness suicidal ideation 

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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rob McGee
    • 1
  • Sheila Williams
    • 1
  • Shyamala Nada-Raja
  1. 1.Department of Preventive and Social MedicineUniversity of Otago Medical SchoolDunedinNew Zealand

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