Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Suicide in Teens Linked to Community Violence

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Suicide in Teens Linked to Community Violence

Article excerpt

ATLANTA -- Community violence should be seen as a marker and a risk factor for suicidal behavior in adolescents, James Mazza, Ph.D., told those attending the annual meeting of the American Association of Suicidology.

Contrary to popular wisdom, high levels of exposure to community violence do not desensitize youngsters to violence and death but are related to increased levels of suicidal behavior, Dr. Mazza said at a poster session.

Dr. Mazza reported on a study of 104 inner-city adolescents ranging in age from 11 to 14 years. The level of violence in the participants' community was elevated enough to require assigning a full-time police officer to the local schools to ensure student safety. Based on self-reports, 91% of the participants had been exposed to at least one violent community event within the past year, and 86% reported being exposed to two or more such incidents.

Adolescents in the high-exposure and moderate-exposure groups had significantly higher levels of suicidal ideation than did those in the no- or low-exposure group, with a mean score of 11. …

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