Correlates of parasuicide, suicidal threats, and suicidal ideation among incarcerated adolescents

Brian Joseph Lussier, Fordham University


The present study examined relationships between nonfatal suicidal behaviors and selected psychosocial factors commonly associated with adolescent suicidality within an incarcerated adolescent male sample ($N = 139$). Suicidal behaviors (lifetime and within current incarceration) that were examined included: threats, ideation, and parasuicide (deliberate self-injury, regardless of intent to die; Linehan, 1981a). The psychosocial factors examined included: psychological variables (depression, cognitive rigidity); interpersonal relationships (family and interpersonal difficulties); and at-risk behaviors (substance abuse and prior suicidal phenomenon). A survey/interview format was utilized to gather data via the Suicidal Behaviors Questionnaire and Hilson Adolescent Profile. Percentages of residents reporting histories of lifetime phenomena were as follows: parasuicide, 17.3%, threats, 55.4%, ideation, 54.7%. The rates for current phenomena were: parasuicide, 5.8%, threats, 27.9%, ideation, 32.4%. Correlational analyses supported 10 of 15 hypotheses regarding lifetime phenomenon and 10 of 18 regarding current phenomenon. Six multiple regression analyses were conducted in which all the psychosocial factors (potential predictor variables) hypothesized to have significant relationships with the suicidal phenomena (criterion variables) were entered simultaneously. Total regressions were significant for all suicidal variables except current parasuicide. For the remaining suicidal variables, except current threats, Depression/Suicide Potential was the only HAP variable that consistently contributed significantly to the variance. None of the individual HAP variables contributed significantly to the variance in current threats. Exploratory analyses also revealed that those with previous incarcerations had higher scores for lifetime parasuicide than those incarcerated for the first time. Nonsignificant results were obtained for t-tests which examined whether there were significant differences on suicidal variables depending on the types of charges a resident was facing. To assess differences in suicidality among delinquent subtypes, residents were divided into five groups based on a Ward's cluster analysis of their HAP scores. Clusters were compared to subtypes identified in the literature. Two subtypes characterized by more psychological maladjustment were more likely to exhibit suicidal phenomena. Results were discussed in terms of their theoretical relevance to adolescent suicidality in general as well as their clinical implications for suicide assessment and prevention within detention centers.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Lussier, Brian Joseph, "Correlates of parasuicide, suicidal threats, and suicidal ideation among incarcerated adolescents" (1997). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9715517.