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0075 Protective environmental influences against suicidal ideation in youth
  1. Elizabeth Brutsch
  1. Utah Department of Health, Salt Lake City, UT, USA


Statement of purpose Suicide was the leading cause of death among youth ages 10–18 in Utah during 2013, with the highest rate in over 10 years. While there has been much research done on risk factors related to suicide, protective factors are less understood. The purpose of this study was to examine the protective effects of positive school, community, peer, and family environments on suicidal ideation among adolescents in Utah.

Methods/Approach Using logistic regression, we analysed data from 23,631 respondents to Utah’s 2013 Prevention Needs Assessment student health survey to examine the effects of prosocial school, peer, community, and family environments on reported suicidal ideation among 8th, 10th, and 12th grade students. Initial analysis controlled for students’ sex, race/ethnicity, year in school, and socioeconomic status (using the highest level of education in the household as an indicator of SES), and a second analysis additionally controlled for depression.

Results Regression controlling for demographic variables identified significant reductions in reported suicide ideation associated with all four environments. Controlling for demographic variables and depression, prosocial family environment was still associated with a significantly reduced risk of having seriously considered suicide in the past 12 months (OR=0.81, p < 0.001), as was community environment, though to a lesser degree (OR=0.95, 0.006). School and peer environments were not associated with significant reductions in suicide ideation.

Conclusions Positive environments in all categories were associated with reduced risk of suicidal ideation. A prosocial family environment was found to be associated with the greatest protective effect of the four environments under investigation, followed [in descending order of influence] by community, peer, and school environment. For students whose responses indicated depression, family and community environments still had a protective effect against suicide ideation.

Significance and contribution to the field These findings have significant implications for suicide prevention efforts. While the school-based approach has been a common focus of programming, leading to an abundance of school-based suicide prevention programs, this analysis indicates that family- and community-based programs have potential to be more effective at addressing suicide risk, especially among youth with depression.

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