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Young people are most vulnerable to suicidal behaviours but least likely to seek help. A more elaborate study of the intrinsic and extrinsic correlates of suicidal ideation and behaviours particularly amid ongoing population-level stressors and the identification of less stigmatising markers in representative youth populations is essential.
Participants (n = 2540, aged 15–25) were consecutively recruited from an ongoing large-scale household-based epidemiological youth mental health study in Hong Kong between September 2019 and 2021. Lifetime and 12-month prevalence of suicidal ideation, plan, and attempt were assessed, alongside suicide-related rumination, hopelessness and neuroticism, personal and population-level stressors, family functioning, cognitive ability, lifetime non-suicidal self-harm, 12-month major depressive disorder (MDD), and alcohol use.
The 12-month prevalence of suicidal ideation, ideation-only (no plan or attempt), plan, and attempt was 20.0, 15.4, 4.6, and 1.3%, respectively. Importantly, multivariable logistic regression findings revealed that suicide-related rumination was the only factor associated with all four suicidal outcomes (all p < 0.01). Among those with suicidal ideation (two-stage approach), intrinsic factors, including suicide-related rumination, poorer cognitive ability, and 12-month MDE, were specifically associated with suicide plan, while extrinsic factors, including coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) stressors, poorer family functioning, and personal life stressors, as well as non-suicidal self-harm, were specifically associated with suicide attempt.
Suicide-related rumination, population-level COVID-19 stressors, and poorer family functioning may be important less-stigmatising markers for youth suicidal risks. The respective roles played by not only intrinsic but also extrinsic factors in suicide plan and attempt using a two-stage approach should be considered in future preventative intervention work.
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