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June 2007

Dating Violence, Sexual Assault, and Suicide Attempts Among Minority Adolescents: Ending the Silence

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2007;161(6):609-610. doi:10.1001/archpedi.161.6.609

In this issue of the Archives, Olshen and colleagues1 characterized the association between suicide attempts and the experience of dating violence and sexual assault in a large, stratified, random sample of predominantly minority urban adolescents. The study adds to a growing body of literature noting associations between the largely tolerated pandemic of violence victimization and adverse mental health in adolescents.2-8 The study is unique in that it focused on black and Hispanic youth, who are traditionally underrepresented in studies of violence victimization and suicide risk. Consistent with national surveys,2 the study found that roughly 1 in 10 youths reported dating violence victimization (were deliberately hit, slapped, or physically hurt by a boyfriend or girlfriend) in the past year; 1 in 10 girls reported a history of sexual assault in her lifetime. Violence victimization, depressive symptoms, sexual orientation, and other risky behaviors were strongly associated with suicide attempts.