WEDNESDAY, Nov. 30 (HealthDay News) -- About 40 percent of young
adults who've attempted suicide made their first attempt before
high school, which suggests that suicidal thoughts and behavior may
begin much younger than previously believed, according to a new
As part of an ongoing survey, University of Washington
researchers asked almost 900 young adults, ages 18 or 19, about
their history of suicide attempts.
Nearly 9 percent (78) of the participants said they had
attempted suicide at some point. Of those, 40 percent said they
made their first attempt before they started high school.
Rates of attempted suicide jumped at around the sixth grade
(about age 12) and peaked around eighth or ninth grade. Of the 39
participants who reported multiple suicide attempts, their first
attempt was much earlier (as young as age 9) than those who made a
The study also found that suicide attempts during childhood and
adolescence were linked to higher depression scores at the times of
"This suggests that kids are able to tell us, by their depression scores, that things aren't going well for them," lead author James Mazza, a professor of educational psychology, said in a university news release. "We're likely not giving kids enough credence in assessing their own mental health, and this study shows that we can rely on self-report measures to help identify youth who may be at risk for current mental health concerns, including possible suicidal behavior."
Mazza said the study reveals that young adults "who end up
having chronic mental health problems show their struggles early,"
and the findings suggest "that implementation of mental health
programs may need to start in elementary and middle schools, and
that youth in these grades are fairly good reporters of their own
The study appears in the November issue of the
Journal of Adolescent Health.
According to background information from the researchers, about
one in nine youths attempts suicide by the time they graduate from
The U.S. National Institute of Mental Health has more about