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      Suicidal tendencies and attitude towards freedom to choose suicide among Lithuanian schoolchildren: results from three cross-sectional studies in 1994, 1998, and 2002

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      BMC Public Health

      BioMed Central

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          Suicidal behaviour is increasingly becoming a phenomenon associated with young people and an important public health issue in Lithuania. However, there are very few studies evaluating impact of young peoples' attitudes towards suicide to their suicidal behaviour. A better understanding of the relations among the variables associated with suicidal ideation and threats in the normal population of adolescents may eventually result in a better understanding of the more serious forms of adolescent suicidal behaviour. The aim of the present study was to evaluate prevalence of suicidal tendencies among Lithuanian schoolchildren and to estimate its association with an attitude towards suicide in 1994 – 2002.


          Three country representative samples of schoolchildren, aged 11, 13 and 15, were surveyed in 1994 (n = 5428), 1998 (n = 4513), and 2002 (n = 5645) anonymously in conformity with the methodology of the World Health Organization Cross – National study on Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC).


          About one third of respondents reported about suicidal ideation, plans or attempts to commit suicide. In the study period of eight years, the percentage of adolescents who reported sometime suicidal ideation decreased but the percentage of adolescents who declared serious suicidal behaviour remained on the same high level (8.1%, 9.8% and 8.4% correspondingly in 1994, 1998 and 2002). Moreover, the number of suicidal attempts changed from 1.0% in 1994 to 1.8% in the year 1998 and to 1,7% in the year 2002. The schoolchildren's attitude towards suicide became more agreeable: 36.6%, 41.9% and 62.5% of respondents, correspondingly in 1994, 1998 and 2002, answered that they agree with a person's freedom to make a choice between life and suicide. A multiple logistic regression analysis with low level of suicidality and high level of suicidality versus non suicidal behaviour as dependent variables for gender, age, year of the survey and attitude towards freedom to choose suicide as independent variables approved a significant association between studied covariates over the entire study period.


          Suicidal tendencies are quite frequent among Lithuanian adolescents. An increasing number of schoolchildren are expressing an agreeable attitude towards suicide. The approving attitude towards suicide among adolescents correlates with suicidal ideation and behaviour.

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          Most cited references 38

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          Deliberate self harm in adolescents: self report survey in schools in England.

          To determine the prevalence of deliberate self harm in adolescents and the factors associated with it. Cross sectional survey using anonymous self report questionnaire. 41 schools in England. 6020 pupils aged 15 and 16 years. Deliberate self harm. 398 (6.9%) participants reported an act of deliberate self harm in the previous year that met study criteria. Only 12.6% of episodes had resulted in presentation to hospital. Deliberate self harm was more common in females than it was in males (11.2% v 3.2%; odds ratio 3.9, 95% confidence interval 3.1 to 4.9). In females the factors included in a multivariate logistic regression for deliberate self harm were recent self harm by friends, self harm by family members, drug misuse, depression, anxiety, impulsivity, and low self esteem. In males the factors were suicidal behaviour in friends and family members, drug use, and low self esteem. Deliberate self harm is common in adolescents, especially females. School based mental health initiatives are needed. These could include approaches aimed at educating school pupils about mental health problems and screening for those at risk.
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            Psychosocial and risk behavior correlates of youth suicide attempts and suicidal ideation.

            To identify the independent psychosocial and risk behavior correlates of suicidal ideation and attempts. The relationships between suicidal ideation or attempts and family environment, subject characteristics, and various risk behaviors were examined among 1,285 randomly selected children and adolescents, aged 9 through 17 years, of whom 42 (3.3%) had attempted suicide and 67 (5.2%) had expressed suicidal ideation only. The youths and their parents were enumerated and interviewed between December 1991 and July 1992 as part of the NIMH Methods for the Epidemiology of Child and Adolescent Mental Disorders (MECA) Study. Compared with subjects with suicidal ideation only, attempters were significantly more likely to have experienced stressful life events, to have become sexually active, to have smoked more than one cigarette daily, and to have a history of ever having smoked marijuana. After adjusting for sociodemographic characteristics, a statistically significant association was found between suicidal ideation or attempt and stressful life events, poor family environment, parental psychiatric history, low parental monitoring, low instrumental and social competence, sexual activity, marijuana use, recent drunkenness, current smoking, and physical fighting. Even after further adjusting for the presence of a mood, anxiety, or disruptive disorder, a significant association persisted between suicidal ideation or attempts and poor family environment, low parental monitoring, low youth instrumental competence, sexual activity, recent drunkenness, current smoking, and physical fighting. Low parental monitoring and risk behaviors (such as smoking, physical fighting, alcohol intoxication, and sexual activity) are independently associated with increased risk of suicidal ideation and attempts, even after adjusting for the presence of psychiatric disorder and sociodemographic variables.
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              Gender differences in the relationship between depression and suicidal ideation in young adolescents.

              This study examined the risk relationship between depressive symptomatology and suicidal ideation for young adolescent males and females. A large cohort of students in their first year of high school completed the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CES-D) and the Adolescent Suicide Questionnaire. The risk relationship between depressive symptomatology and suicidal ideation was modelled using non-parametric kernel-smoothing techniques. Suicidal ideation was more frequently reported by females compared with males which was partly explained by females having higher mean depression scores. At moderate levels of depression females also had a significantly higher risk of suicidal ideation compared with males and this increased risk contributed to the overall higher levels of female ideation. The risk relationship between depressive symptomatology and suicidal ideation is different for young adolescent males and females. The results indicate that moderate levels of depressive symptomatology can be associated with suicidal ideation (especially among young females) and that for these young people a suicide risk assessment is required.

                Author and article information

                BMC Public Health
                BMC Public Health
                BioMed Central (London )
                11 August 2005
                : 5
                : 83
                [1 ]Institute for Biomedical Research, Kaunas University of Medicine, 4, Eiveniu str., Kaunas, LT-50009, Lithuania
                Copyright © 2005 Zemaitiene and Zaborskis; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                Research Article

                Public health


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