Volume 46, Issue 4 (July 2001)
Child and Adolescent Suicide in a Large, Urban Area: Psychological, Demographic, and Situational Factors
We examined all completed suicides by children and adolescents in Los Angeles County who died during 1996 and 1997. There were 46 subjects, aged 11 through 16. The majority of the decedents were males and over age 14. The predominant racial group was Hispanic. There was an almost even split between firearms and hanging as the means of death. Females had a statistically significantly higher rate of prior suicide attempts than males. Over one-third left a suicide note, almost one-half were noted to be depressed, and 22% tested positive for alcohol or illicit drugs. Less than one-quarter were in mental health treatment. Eighty-seven percent had difficulty transitioning to or during adolescence; e.g., problems at home, legal and school difficulties, and relationship losses. These findings are discussed in terms of Eriksonian developmental theory. We offer recommendations for intervention and prevention of suicide.