Suicide-risk behaviors and drug involvement among potential high school dropouts
Two related studies were undertaken to provide a comprehensive profile of risk and protective factors for suicide among teens at risk for school dropout. Data from 801 potential high school dropouts (54% male and 46% female) ages 14--21 years were used in both studies. In Study 1, potential dropouts who were and were not at risk for suicide (Suicide-Risk and Non-Suicide-Risk youth) were compared on direct suicide risk factors, related risk factors, and protective factors; next, key risk and protective factors influencing current suicide risk status were identified. Findings revealed that Suicide-Risk potential high school dropouts had significantly more direct suicide risk and related risk factors, and significantly fewer protective factors, than Non-Suicide-Risk potential high school dropouts. The strongest predictors of level of suicide risk were prior suicide attempts, hopelessness, high-risk behaviors, adverse drug use consequences, being female, and being of Asian American ethnicity. Sense of support was a significant protective factor. In Study 2, a model of direct and indirect influences of select risk and protective factors on the co-occurrence of suicide-risk behaviors and drug involvement was specified and tested using structural equation modeling. The model was then tested to determine whether it was equivalent for males and females in explaining the co-occurrence of suicide-risk behaviors and drug involvement. Study 2 findings demonstrated that suicide-risk behaviors and drug involvement were influenced by common risk and protective factors. Emotional distress and high-risk behaviors had direct influences on suicide-risk behaviors and drug involvement. Personal resources had a direct negative effect on suicide-risk behaviors but not on drug involvement. Family support and peer school support enhanced personal resources. For males versus females, there were more similarities than differences. High-risk behaviors and personal resources were stronger predictors of suicide-risk behaviors, while peer school support had a stronger effect on enhancing personal resources for females than for males. Findings support the need for comprehensive assessment of risk and protective factors influencing suicide-risk behaviors and drug involvement. Prevention programs should include components that reduce emotional distress, high-risk behavior, and deviant peer bonding; and components that enhance personal resources, family support, and peer school support.
- Nursing - Seattle