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Psychotic symptoms in adolescence index risk for suicidal behavior: findings from 2 population-based case-control clinical interview studies.

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posted on 16.09.2021, 10:29 authored by Ian KelleherIan Kelleher, Fionnuala Lynch, Michelle Harley, Charlene Molloy, Sarah Roddy, Carol Fitzpatrick, Mary CannonMary Cannon

CONTEXT: Recent evidence from both clinical and population research has pointed to psychotic symptoms as potentially important markers of risk for suicidal behavior. However, to our knowledge, there have been no epidemiological studies to date that have reported data on psychotic symptoms and suicidality in individuals who have been clinically assessed for suicidal behavior.

OBJECTIVES: To explore associations between psychotic symptoms in nonpsychotic adolescents and risk for suicidal behavior in (1) the general population, (2) adolescents with psychiatric disorder, and (3) adolescents with suicidal ideation. DESIGN Two independently conducted case-control clinical interview studies. SETTING Population-based studies in Ireland. PARTICIPANTS Study 1 included 212 adolescents aged 11 to 13 years. Study 2 included 211 adolescents aged 13 to 15 years. Participants were recruited from schools.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Suicidal behavior and psychotic symptoms, assessed by semi-structured diagnostic clinical interview. RESULTS Psychotic symptoms were associated with a 10-fold increased odds of any suicidal behavior (ideation, plans, or acts) in both the early and middle adolescence studies (odds ratio [OR], 10.23; 95% CI, 3.25-32.26; P < .001 and OR, 10.5; 95% CI, 3.14-35.17; P < .001, respectively). Adolescents with depressive disorders who also experienced psychotic symptoms were at a nearly 14-fold increased odds of more severe suicidal behavior (suicide plans and suicide acts) compared with adolescents with depressive disorders who did not experience psychotic symptoms (OR, 13.7; 95% CI, 2.1-89.6). Among all adolescents with suicidal ideation, those who also reported psychotic symptoms had a nearly 20-fold increased odds of suicide plans and suicide acts compared with adolescents with suicidal ideation who did not report psychotic symptoms (OR, 19.6; 95% CI, 1.8-216.1).

CONCLUSIONS: Psychotic symptoms are strongly associated with increased risk for suicidal behavior in the general adolescent population and in adolescents with (nonpsychotic) psychiatric disorder. In both studies, an absolute majority of adolescents with more severe suicidal behavior (suicidal plans and acts) reported psychotic symptoms when directly questioned about this as part of a psychiatric interview. Assessment of psychotic symptoms should form a key part of suicide risk assessment.


The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Community's Seventh Framework Programme under grant agreement HEALTH-F2-2010-241909 (Project European Network of National Schizophrenia Networks Studying Gene-Environment Interactions [EU-GEI]). The ABD study was supported by an Essel–National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression/Brain and Behavior Research Foundation Independent Investigator award and a Clinician Scientist Award (CSA/2004/1) from the Health Research Board (Ireland) (Dr Cannon). The CT study was supported by Friends of the Children's University Hospital (Dublin), the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the Health Service Executive Northern Area, and the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital.



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Published Citation

Kelleher I, Lynch F, Harley M,Molloy C, Roddy S, Fitzpatrick C, Cannon M. Psychotic symptoms in adolescence index risk for suicidal behavior: findings from two population-based case-control clinical interview studies. Archives of General Psychiatry. 2012;69(12):1277-1283.

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  • Beaumont Hospital
  • Psychiatry
  • Undergraduate Research

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