WEDNESDAY, Feb. 16, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Teens who have frequent thoughts of suicide also experience psychosocial problems, according to a study published online Feb. 3 in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics.

Juliana M. Holcomb, from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and colleagues assessed suicidal ideation in adolescents based on data from two widely used screening measures. The analysis included 5,411 adolescents (aged 11 to 17 years) who completed the Patient Health Questionnaire Modified for Teenagers (PHQ-9M) during well-child visits and their parents’ responses to the Pediatric Symptom Checklist (PSC-17P).

The researchers found that 4.9 percent of adolescents reported suicidal ideation at least several days in the previous two weeks. Seven in 10 adolescents with suicidal ideation reported moderate to very severe depression on the PHQ-9M and 68.1 percent were at risk on at least one PSC-17P problem subscale, including 59.7 percent on the PSC-17P internalizing scale, 42.9 percent on PSC-17P overall, 20.6 percent on PSC-17P externalizing, and 18.5 percent on PSC-17P attention. More than one-third of teens endorsing suicidal ideation nearly all days had a former suicide attempt (35.7 percent).

“Given our limited knowledge of how to predict and prevent an individual adolescent’s suicide, the focus of screening should be to identify and help the subset of patients with chronic psychosocial vulnerability of any type,” the authors write.

Two of the study authors developed the web tool used in the study.

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