Home > Examining the relationship between adversity and suicidality and self-harm in Irish adolescents from 2020 to 2022.

Silke, Charlotte and Heary, Caroline and Bunting, Brendan and Devaney, Carmel and Groarke, AnnMarie and Major, Emmet and Durcan, Micheal and O'Brien, Cliodhna and Brady, Bernadine (2024) Examining the relationship between adversity and suicidality and self-harm in Irish adolescents from 2020 to 2022. Journal of Affective Disorders, 349, pp. 234-243. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2023.12.065.

BACKGROUND Research indicates that there is a strong association between childhood adversity and youth suicide and self-harm. However, there is currently a lack of understanding about the patterns of adversity most frequently experienced by youth across social settings, and whether these typologies differently predict youth engagement in suicide and self-harm. This study examines the dominant patterns of adversity experienced by adolescents across home, peer, and school contexts, and explores the relationship between youth's adversity profiles and their suicide and self-harm outcomes, across a two year period (2020-2022).

METHODS Secondary analyses were performed on data collected from 10,281 (50 % male) adolescents who participated in the Irish Planet Youth questionnaire in 2020 (n = 5004) or 2022 (n = 5277).

RESULTS Findings from clustered latent class analyses indicated that there are four dominant profiles of adversity experienced by adolescents. Class 1 (Multiple Adversity) was characterised by a high probability of experiencing adversity across multiple social settings. Class 2 (Parent Adversity) had a strong likelihood of experiencing adversity with parents. Class 3 (Peer Adversity) were likely to experience adversity within the peer/friend domain. Class 4 was characterised by a low probability of experiencing adversity. Findings from logistic regression models with BCH training weights indicated that there were significant differences in self-harm and suicidality across the adversity classes. In comparison to the low adversity group, adolescents in the multiple adversity group were more likely to self-harm (OR = 29.92; 95 % CI 24.35; 36.77) and attempt suicide (OR = 63.53, 95 % CI 44.17; 91.38).

LIMITATIONS These findings are based on cross-sectional data and rely on the use of single-item measurements, which may limit the generalisability of findings.

DISCUSSION Results indicate that youth who experience adversity across home, peer and school contexts are at the greatest risk of engaging in suicide and self-harm. These findings have important implications for policy and practice, and suggest that youth experiencing adversity across multiple settings should be priority targets for intervention.

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