Sunday, February 7, 2016

Sensation Seeking as a Potential Screening Tool for Suicidality in Adolescence

Although suicide could be an adverse health problem related to sensation seeking, this relationship has not been rigorously evaluated. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the relationship between sensation seeking and suicidality (suicidal ideation and plan) among adolescents and to test the influence of depressive symptom on this relationship.

We surveyed 2,017 adolescents in seven middle and high schools located in urban and rural areas in 2012. A self-report questionnaire included items about demographic characteristics, sensation seeking, depressive symptom, and suicide plans. We evaluated the influence of sensation seeking on suicide plan using multiple logistic regression and causal mediation analysis.

Sensation seeking was related to suicide ideation and plan. Sensation seeking was associated with a 13 % greater likelihood of a suicide plan during the past 12 months as the score increased by 1. After controlling for depressive symptom, the effect of sensation seeking was reduced, but still significantly increased the risk (adjusted odds ratio: 1.10; 95 % CI: 1.04-1.16). When depressive symptom was included as a potential mediator, depressive symptom exerted an indirect effect on suicide planning that constituted 37 % of the total effect of sensation seeking. There was no significant interaction between sensation seeking and either demographic variables or depressive symptom.

Sensation seeking can contribute to developing a suicide plan directly and indirectly via depressive symptom. Sensation seeking could be used to identify high-risk adolescents and provide proper interventions.

Participant demographics by suicide ideation and planning
NSuicide planning (N = 80)Suicide ideation (N = 207)
 1st middle school189147.4<0.013216.9<0.01
 2nd middle school250166.44317.5
 3rd middle school194105.22211.4
 1st high school607183.0508.3
 2nd high school555142.5356.3
 3rd high school21373.32411.3
Family Income
No. of Siblings
 ≥ 3418194.55112.2
 Sensation-seeking scorea4.0 (2.0–6.0)5.0 (3.0–6.0)<0.015.0 (3.0–6.0)<0.01
Note: Percentages are based on different numbers of participants depending on frequency of answering
aMedian and interquartile range (Q1-Q3), P-value for Wilcoxon rank sum test

Full article at:

Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, Inha University School of Medicine, 27 Inhang-Ro, Jung-Gu Incheon, Republic of Korea
Department of Preventive Medicine, School of Medicine, Ewha Womans University, 1071 Anyangcheon-ro, Yangcheon-ku Seoul, 158-710 Republic of Korea
Won Kyung Lee, Email:
 2016 Jan 29;16(1):92. doi: 10.1186/s12889-016-2729-2.

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