Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
×
Home

Neighborhood poverty and suicidal thoughts and attempts in late adolescence

  • V. Dupéré (a1) (a2), T. Leventhal (a2) and É. Lacourse (a3)
Abstract
Background

Suicide tends to concentrate in disadvantaged neighborhoods, and neighborhood disadvantage is associated with many important risk factors for youth suicide. However, no study has directly investigated the link between neighborhood poverty and youth suicidal behaviors, while controlling for pre-existing vulnerabilities. The objective of this study was to determine whether living in a poor neighborhood is associated with suicidal thoughts and attempts in late adolescence over and above background vulnerabilities, and whether this association can be explained by late-adolescence psychosocial risks: depression, social support, negative life events (NLEs), delinquent activities, substance abuse and exposure to suicide. The potential moderating role of neighborhood poverty was also examined.

Method

A subset of 2776 participants was selected from the Canadian National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth (NLSCY). Late-adolescence suicidal behaviors and risk factors were self-reported. The 2001 Canadian Census was used to characterize neighborhoods during early and middle adolescence. Late-childhood family and individual controls were assessed through parent-report.

Results

At the bivariate level, the odds of reporting suicidal thoughts were about twice as high in poor than non-poor neighborhoods, and the odds of attempting suicide were about four times higher. After controlling for background vulnerabilities, neighborhood poverty remained significantly associated with both suicidal thoughts and attempts. However, these associations were not explained by late-adolescence psychosocial risks. Rather, youth living in poor neighborhoods may be at greater risk through the amplification of other risk factors in disadvantaged neighborhoods.

Conclusions

Potential explanations for the increased vulnerability of youth living in poor neighborhoods are discussed.

Copyright
Corresponding author
*Address for correspondence: V. Dupéré, Ph.D., Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Development, Medford, MA 02155, USA. (Email: verodupere@yahoo.com)
Footnotes
Hide All

This paper was presented at the biennial meeting of the Society for Research on Adolescence, Chicago, March 2008.

Footnotes
References
Hide All
Allison, PD (2001). Missing Data. Sage: Thousand Oaks, CA.
Aneshensel, CS, Sucoff, CA (1996). The neighborhood context of adolescent mental health. Journal of Health and Social Behavior 37, 293310.
Billy, JOG, Grady, WR, Wenzlow, AT, Brener, ND, Collins, JL, Kann, L (2000). Contextual influences on school provision of health services. Journal of Adolescent Health 27, 1224.
Borowsky, IW, Resnick, MD, Ireland, M, Blum, RW (1999). Suicide attempts among American Indian and Alaska Native youth: risk and protective factors. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine 153, 573580.
Boyle, MH, Offord, DR, Hofmann, HG, Catlin, GP, Byles, JA, Cadman, DT (1987). Ontario Child Health Study. I. Methodology. Archives of General Psychiatry 44, 826831.
Bridge, JA, Goldstein, TR, Brent, DA (2006). Adolescent suicide and suicidal behavior. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 47, 372394.
Cubbin, C, LeClere, FB, Smith, GS (2000). Socioeconomic status and injury mortality: individual and neighborhood determinants. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health 54, 517524.
Cutrona, CE (1984). Social support and stress in the transition to parenthood. Journal of Abnormal Psychology 93, 378390.
Cutrona, CE, Russell, DW, Brown, PA, Clark, LA, Hessling, RM, Gardner, KA (2005). Neighborhood context, personality, and stressful life events as predictors of depression among African American women. Journal of Abnormal Psychology 114, 315.
Duncan, SC, Duncan, TE, Strycker, LA (2002). A multilevel analysis of neighborhood context and youth alcohol and drug problems. Prevention Science 3, 125133.
Dupéré, V, Lacourse, E, Willms, JD, Leventhal, T, Tremblay, RE (2008). Neighborhood poverty and early transition to sexual activity in young adolescents: a developmental ecological approach. Child Development 79, 805806.
Eaves, LJ (2006). Genotype×environment interaction in psychopathology: fact or artifact? Twin Research and Human Genetics 9, 18.
Exeter, DJ, Boyle, PJ (2007). Does young adult suicide cluster geographically in Scotland? Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health 61, 731736.
Fergusson, DM, Horwood, LJ, Ridder, EM, Beautrais, A (2005). Suicidal behavior in adolescence and subsequent mental health outcomes in young adulthood. Psychological Medicine 35, 983993.
Fotti, SA, Katz, LY, Afifi, TO, Cox, BJ (2006). The associations between peer and parental relationships and suicidal behaviours in early adolescents. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry 51, 698703.
Gould, MS, Greenberg, T, Velting, DM, Shaffer, D (2003). Youth suicide risk and preventive interventions: a review of the past 10 years. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 42, 386405.
Hendin, H, Haas, AP, Maltsberger, JT, Szanto, K, Rabinowicz, H (2004). Factors contributing to therapists' distress after the suicide of a patient. American Journal of Psychiatry 161, 14421446.
Hill, TD, Ross, CE, Angel, RJ (2005). Neighborhood disorder, psychophysiological distress, and health. Journal of Health and Social Behavior 46, 170186.
Jarrett, RL (1999). Successful parenting in high risk neighborhoods. Future of Children 9, 4550.
Johnson, JG, Cohen, P, Gould, MS, Kasen, S, Brown, JS, Brook, JS (2002). Childhood adversities, interpersonal difficulties, and risk for suicide attempts during late adolescence and early adulthood. Archives of General Psychiatry 59, 741749.
Joiner, TE, Brown, JS, Wingate, LR (2005). The psychology and neurobiology of suicidal behavior. Annual Review of Psychology 56, 287314.
Kessler, RC, Borges, G, Walters, EE (1999). Prevalence and risk factors for lifetime suicide attempts in the National Comorbidity Survey. Archives of General Psychiatry 56, 617626.
Kirmayer, LJ, Brass, GM, Holton, T, Paul, K, Simpson, C, Tait, C (2007). Suicide among Aboriginal people in Canada. The Aboriginal Healing Foundation: Ottawa, ON.
Kohen, DE, Brooks-Gunn, J, Leventhal, T, Hertzman, C (2002). Neighborhood income and physical and social disorder in Canada: associations with young children's competencies. Child Development 73, 18441860.
Lacourse, E, Nagin, D, Tremblay, RE, Vitaro, F, Claes, M (2003). Developmental trajectories of boys' delinquent group membership and facilitation of violent behaviors during adolescence. Development and Psychopathology 15, 183197.
Lacourse, E, Nagin, DS, Vitaro, F, Côté, S, Arseneault, L, Tremblay, RE (2006). Prediction of early onset deviant peer group affiliation: a 12-year longitudinal study. Archives of General Psychiatry 63, 562568.
Langlois, S, Morrison, P (2002). Suicide deaths and suicide attempts. Health Reports 13, 922.
Leventhal, T, Brooks-Gunn, J (2000). The neighborhoods they live in: the effects of neighborhood residence on child and adolescent outcomes. Psychological Bulletin 126, 309337.
Lynam, DR, Caspi, A, Moffitt, TE, Wikström, PH, Loeber, R, Novak, SP (2000). The interaction between impulsivity and neighborhood context on offending: the effects of impulsivity are stronger in poorer neighborhoods. Journal of Abnormal Psychology 109, 563574.
Manuck, SB, Bleil, M, Petersen, KL, Flory, JD, Mann, JJ, Ferrell, RE, Muldoon, MF (2005). The socio-economic status of communities predicts variation in brain serotonergic responsivity. Psychological Medicine 35, 519528.
Middleton, N, Sterne, JAC, Gunnell, D (2006). The geography of despair among 15–44 year-old men in England and Wales: putting suicide on the map. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health 60, 10401047.
Middleton, N, Whitley, E, Frankel, S, Dorling, D, Sterne, J, Gunnell, D (2004). Suicide risk in small areas in England and Wales, 1991–1993. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology 39, 4552.
Miller, JR, Piper, TM, Ahern, J, Tracy, M, Tardiff, KJ, Vlahov, D, Galea, S (2005). Income inequality and risk of suicide in New York city neighborhoods: a multilevel case-control study. Suicide and Life Threatening Behavior 35, 448459.
Molnar, BE, Gortmaker, SL, Bull, FC, Buka, SL (2004). Unsafe to play? Neighborhood disorder and lack of safety predict reduced physical activity among urban children and adolescents. American Journal of Health Promotion 18, 378386.
Murphy, SA, Johnson, LC, Wu, L, Fan, JJ, Lohan, J (2003). Bereaved parents' outcomes 4 to 60 months after their children's deaths by accident, suicide, or homicide: a comparative study demonstrating differences. Death Studies 27, 3961.
Obeidallah, D, Brennan, RT, Brooks-Gunn, J, Earls, F (2004). Links between pubertal timing and neighborhood contexts: implications for girls' violent behavior. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 43, 14601468.
Perez-Smith, A, Spirito, A, Boergers, J (2002). Neighborhood predictors of hopelessness among adolescent suicide attempters: preliminary investigation. Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior 32, 139145.
Pfeffer, CR, Jiang, H, Kakuma, T, Hwang, J, Metsch, M (2002). Group intervention for children bereaved by the suicide of a relative. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 41, 505513.
Poulin, C, Hand, D, Boudreau, B (2005). Validity of a 12-item version of the CES-D used in the National Longitudinal Study of Children and Youth. Chronic Diseases in Canada 26, 6572.
Puderer, H (2001). Introducing the Dissemination Area for the 2001 Census: An Update. Geography Working Paper Series. Statistics Canada: Ottawa.
Radloff, LS (1977). The CES-D scale: a self-report of depression scale for research in the general population. Applied Psychological Measurement 1, 385401.
Rehkopf, DH, Buka, SL (2005). The association between suicide and the socio-economic characteristics of geographical areas: a systematic review. Psychological Medicine 36, 145157.
Reinherz, HZ, Tanner, JL, Berger, SR, Beardslee, WR, Fitzmaurice, GM (2006). Adolescent suicidal ideation as predictive of psychopathology, suicidal behavior, and compromised functioning at age 30. American Journal of Psychiatry 163, 12261232.
Ross, CE (2000). Neighborhood disadvantage and adult depression. Journal of Health and Social Behavior 41, 177187.
Sampson, RJ, Raudenbush, SW, Earls, F (1997). Neighborhoods and violent crime: a multilevel study of collective efficacy. Science 277, 918924.
Saxe, L, Kadushin, C, Beveridge, A, Livert, D, Tighe, E, Rindskopf, D, Ford, J, Brodsky, A (2001). The visibility of illicit drugs: implications for community-based drug control strategies. American Journal of Public Health 91, 19871994.
Spirito, A, Esposito-Smythers, C (2006). Attempted and completed suicide in adolescence. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology 2, 237266.
Spirito, A, Overholser, JC (eds) (2003). Evaluating and Treating Adolescent Suicide Attempters: From Research to Practice. Academic Press: San Diego, CA.
Statistics Canada (2007). Microdata User Guide National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth Cycle 6, September 2004 to June 2005. Statistics Canada: Ottawa, ON, Canada.
Statistics Canada and Human Resources Development Canada (1995). National Longitudinal Survey of Children: Overview of Survey Instruments for 1994–95 Data Collection, Cycle 1. Catalogue no. 89F0078XIE. Statistics Canada and Human Resources Development Canada: Ottawa, ON, Canada.
Szanto, K, Kalmar, S, Hendin, H, Rihmer, Z, Mann, JJ (2007). A suicide prevention program in a region with a very high suicide rate. Archives of General Psychiatry 64, 914920.
Thompson, EA, Eggert, LL, Randell, BP, Pike, KC (2001). Evaluation of indicated suicide risk prevention approaches for potential high school dropouts. American Journal of Public Health 91, 742752.
Thornberry, TP, Krohn, MD, Lizotte, AJ, Smith, CA, Tobin, K (2003). Gangs and Delinquency in Developmental Perspective. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge.
Tremblay, RE, Pihl, RO, Vitaro, F, Dobkin, PL (1994). Predicting early onset of male antisocial behavior from preschool behavior: a test of two personality theories. Archives of General Psychiatry 51, 732739.
von Hippel, PT (2007). Regression with missing Ys: an improved strategy for analyzing multiply-imputed data. Sociological Methodology 37, 83117.
Weissman, MM, Bland, RC, Canino, GJ, Greenwald, S, Hwu, HG, Joyce, PR, Karam, EG, Lee, CK, Lellouch, J, Lepine, JP, Newman, SC, Rubio-Stipec, M, Wells, JE, Wickramaratne, PJ, Wittchen, HU, Yeh, EK (1999). Prevalence of suicide ideation and suicide attempts in nine countries. Psychological Medicine 29, 917.
Wheaton, B, Clarke, P (2003). Space meets time: integrating temporal and contextual influences on mental health in early adulthood. American Sociological Review 68, 680706.
Williamson, DE, Birmaher, B, Frank, E, Anderson, B, Matty, MK, Kupfer, DJ (1998). Nature of life events and difficulties in depressed adolescents. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 37, 10491057.
Willms, JD, Shields, M (1996). A Measure of Socioeconomic Status for the National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth. Canadian Research Institute for Social Policy: Fredericton, NB.
Xue, Y, Leventhal, T, Brooks-Gunn, J, Earls, F (2005). Neighborhood residence and mental health problems of 5- to 11-year-olds. Archives of General Psychiatry 62, 554563.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Psychological Medicine
  • ISSN: 0033-2917
  • EISSN: 1469-8978
  • URL: /core/journals/psychological-medicine
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed