Suicidal ideation (SI) among college students is frequently reported. However, the mediating roles of depressive and anxiety symptoms between attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms and SI has yet to be explored among college students.
A cross-sectional survey of college freshmen in China was conducted between October 2018 and December 2018. Standardized questionnaires were used to collect information on basic sociodemographic characteristics, including SI, ADHD symptoms, and anxiety and depressive symptoms. A structural equation model (SEM) was then constructed.
A total of 904 college freshmen were included in the analysis. The prevalence of ADHD symptoms and lifetime SI were 11.9% (95% CI: 9.9%-14.2%) and 29.2% (95% CI: 26.3%-32.2%), respectively. The SEM revealed that there were no direct paths from inattention, executive dysfunction, and hyperactivity to SI. Under the mediating role of anxiety and depressive symptoms, executive dysfunction (β = 0.011, p < 0.05) and hyperactivity (β = 0.015, p < 0.05) had indirect relationships with the risk of SI, and the role of inattention was not identified. Depressive and anxiety symptoms had direct influences on increasing SI. There also were indirect effects from anxiety symptoms to SI, which were mediated by depressive symptoms (β = 0.023, p < 0.001).
The current study indicated the indirect relationships between ADHD symptoms and SI among college freshmen. The findings could provide useful clues for clinical treatment and school-based prevention that aims to improve college students’ mental well-being.

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