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Despite efforts to predict suicide risk in children, the ability to reliably identify who will engage in suicide thoughts or behaviours has remained unsuccessful.
We apply a novel machine-learning approach and examine whether children with suicide thoughts or behaviours could be differentiated from children without suicide thoughts or behaviours based on a combination of traditional (sociodemographic, physical health, social–environmental, clinical psychiatric) risk factors, but also more novel risk factors (cognitive, neuroimaging and genetic characteristics).
The study included 5885 unrelated children (50% female, 67% White, 9–11 years of age) from the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) study. We performed penalised logistic regression analysis to distinguish between: (a) children with current or past suicide thoughts or behaviours; (b) children with a mental illness but no suicide thoughts or behaviours (clinical controls); and (c) healthy control children (no suicide thoughts or behaviours and no history of mental illness). The model was subsequently validated with data from seven independent sites involved in the ABCD study (n = 1712).
Our results showed that we were able to distinguish the suicide thoughts or behaviours group from healthy controls (area under the receiver operating characteristics curve: 0.80 child-report, 0.81 for parent-report) and clinical controls (0.71 child-report and 0.76–0.77 parent-report). However, we could not distinguish children with suicidal ideation from those who attempted suicide (AUROC: 0.55–0.58 child-report; 0.49–0.53 parent-report). The factors that differentiated the suicide thoughts or behaviours group from the clinical control group included family conflict, prodromal psychosis symptoms, impulsivity, depression severity and history of mental health treatment.
This work highlights that mostly clinical psychiatric factors were able to distinguish children with suicide thoughts or behaviours from children without suicide thoughts or behaviours. Future research is needed to determine if these variables prospectively predict subsequent suicidal behaviour.
Childhood maltreatment (CM) plays an important role in the development of major depressive disorder (MDD). The aim of this study was to examine whether CM severity and type are associated with MDD-related brain alterations, and how they interact with sex and age.
Within the ENIGMA-MDD network, severity and subtypes of CM using the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire were assessed and structural magnetic resonance imaging data from patients with MDD and healthy controls were analyzed in a mega-analysis comprising a total of 3872 participants aged between 13 and 89 years. Cortical thickness and surface area were extracted at each site using FreeSurfer.
CM severity was associated with reduced cortical thickness in the banks of the superior temporal sulcus and supramarginal gyrus as well as with reduced surface area of the middle temporal lobe. Participants reporting both childhood neglect and abuse had a lower cortical thickness in the inferior parietal lobe, middle temporal lobe, and precuneus compared to participants not exposed to CM. In males only, regardless of diagnosis, CM severity was associated with higher cortical thickness of the rostral anterior cingulate cortex. Finally, a significant interaction between CM and age in predicting thickness was seen across several prefrontal, temporal, and temporo-parietal regions.
Severity and type of CM may impact cortical thickness and surface area. Importantly, CM may influence age-dependent brain maturation, particularly in regions related to the default mode network, perception, and theory of mind.
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