Longitudinal research supports that suicidal thoughts and behaviors in adolescence predict maladjustment in young adulthood. Prior research supports links between suicide attempt and aggression, perhaps because of a propensity for impulsive behavior in states of high negative affect that underlies both problems. Such vulnerability may increase risk for intimate partner violence and generally poor young adulthood relational adjustment.
A total of 153 men participated in annual assessments from ages 10–32 years and with a romantic partner at three assessments from ages 18–25 years. Multi-method/multi-informant constructs were formed for parent/family risk factors, adolescent psychopathology (e.g. suicide-attempt history, mother-, father-, teacher- and self-reported physical aggression) and young adulthood relational distress (jealousy and low relationship satisfaction) and maladaptive relationship behavior (observed, self- and partner-reported physical and psychological aggression toward a partner, partner-reported injury, official domestic violence arrest records and relationship instability).
Across informants, adolescent aggression was correlated with suicide-attempt history. With few exceptions, aggression and a suicide attempt in adolescence each predicted negative romantic relationship outcomes after controlling for measured confounds. Adolescent aggression predicted young adulthood aggression toward a partner, in part, via relationship dissatisfaction.
Boys' aggression and suicide-attempt history in adolescence each predict poor relationship outcomes, including partner violence, in young adulthood. Findings are consistent with the theory of a trait-like vulnerability, such as impulsive aggression, that undermines adaptation across multiple domains in adolescence and young adulthood. Prevention and intervention approaches can target common causes of diverse public health problems.
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