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Suicide is a leading cause of death for young people. Children living in sub-Saharan Africa, where HIV rates are disproportionately high, may be at increased risk.
To identify predictors, including HIV status, of suicidal ideation and behaviour in Rwandan children aged 10–17.
Matched case–control study of 683 HIV-positive, HIV-affected (seronegative children with an HIV-positive caregiver), and unaffected children and their caregivers.
Over 20% of HIV-positive and affected children engaged in suicidal behaviour in the previous 6 months, compared with 13% of unaffected children. Children were at increased risk if they met criteria for depression, were at high-risk for conduct disorder, reported poor parenting or had caregivers with mental health problems.
Policies and programmes that address mental health concerns and support positive parenting may prevent suicidal ideation and behaviour in children at increased risk related to HIV.