Document Type


Publication Date

February 2003

Journal or Book Title

Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry






OBJECTIVE: To compare correlates of risk for suicidal behavior in juvenile detainees with those in another high-risk group, adolescent psychiatric inpatients.

METHOD: Eighty-one adolescents in a short-term juvenile detention center were contrasted with a matched group of 81 adolescent psychiatric inpatients on a clinical assessment battery of established instruments including a measure for risk of suicidal behavior.

RESULTS: Juvenile detainees and adolescent psychiatric inpatients reported similar levels of distress on measures of suicide risk, depression, impulsivity, and drug abuse. After controlling for depression, impulsivity and drug abuse remained significantly associated with suicide risk scores in the juvenile detention group, but did not in the psychiatric contrast group. For depressed female inpatients, hopelessness added significantly to the prediction of suicide risk scores.

CONCLUSIONS: Correlates of risk for suicidal behavior in juvenile detainees may differ from those in other high-risk groups. Results suggest that it may be helpful to examine impulsivity and history of drug abuse when assessing suicide risk for detained adolescents. Further study of juvenile detainees as a separate high-risk group is warranted to better determine the nature and extent of risk.