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Factors Associated With Ideation And Acts Of Deliberate Self-harm Among 18-year-old Boys

A. Haavisto, A. Sourander, P. Multimäki, K. Parkkola, P. Santalahti, H. Helenius, G. Nikolakaros, I. Moilanen, K. Kumpulainen, J. Piha, E. Aronen, K. Puura, S. Linna, F. Almqvist
Published 2005 · Medicine

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BackgroundThe aims of the study were: (1) to identify the prevalence of ideation and acts of deliberate self-harm in 18-year-old boys; (2) to report the use of mental health services among these boys; (3) to identify risk factors assessed at age 8 and (4) to identify associated cross-sectional factors at age 18 of self-reported ideation and acts of deliberate self-harm.MethodsThe participants in this community-based 10-year follow-up study consisted of 2,348 boys born during 1981. At baseline, three informant sources were used: parents, teachers and the children themselves. The questionnaires used were the Rutter Parents Scale, the Rutter Teacher Scale and the Children's Depressive Inventory. At follow-up, boys' psychopathology, adaptive functioning and substance use were studied using the Young Adult Self-Report questionnaire. Further questions about demographic factors and life events were added at both stages.ResultsThe prevalence of ideation of deliberate self-harm was 4.0%, and of acts 2.2%, during the preceding 6 months. Of the subjects who reported ideation, 9.7%, and of those who reported acts, 16.0%, had used mental health services during the previous year. Self-reported depressive symptoms at age 8 predicted ideation and acts of deliberate self-harm 10 years later. Suicidal boys' problems in many life areas were linked with suicidal tendency through psychiatric symptoms, especially anxious/depressed symptoms and aggressive behaviour.ConclusionsThe connection between self-reported depressive symptoms at age 8 and ideation and acts of deliberate self-harm at age 18 is a good reason to already pay special attention to children's own intimations of distress in elementary school. It is likely that an effective way to prevent suicidality among adolescents is to search for and treat psychiatric problems among young people. Self-reported screening questionnaires used, e.g. in school healthcare, may provide an opportunity to recognize these problems.
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