MONDAY, Jan. 14, 2019 (HealthDay News) — There is a high prevalence of parental unawareness and adolescent denial of suicidal thoughts, according to a study published online Jan. 14 in Pediatrics.

Jason D. Jones, Ph.D., from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and colleagues examined agreement between parent and adolescent reports of adolescents’ suicidal thoughts and factors associated with agreement in a sample of 5,137 adolescents aged 11 to 17 years and a collateral informant (97.2 percent parent or stepparent).

The researchers found moderate agreement for thoughts of killing self (κ = 0.466) and low agreement for thoughts of death or dying (κ = 0.171). The discrepancies were due to parental unawareness of suicidal thoughts and adolescent denial of suicidal reports by parents. Overall, 50 and 75.6 percent of parents were unaware of adolescents’ thoughts of killing themselves and recurrent thoughts of death, respectively. Forty-eight and 67.5 percent of adolescents denied thoughts of killing themselves and thoughts of death reported by parents, respectively. Demographic and clinical characteristics, including age and treatment history, were linked to agreement.

“Given the high prevalence of parental unawareness and adolescent denial of suicidal thoughts found in this study, it is possible that a large number of adolescents with suicide risk may not be detected by brief screens at routine check-ups,” the authors write. “This highlights the urgent need for continued training of pediatric primary care physicians in the evaluation and management of suicidal ideation.”

One author disclosed financial ties to Taliaz Health.

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