Dating Violence, Sexual Assault, and Suicide Attempts Among Urban Teenagers | Adolescent Medicine | JAMA Pediatrics | JAMA Network
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Article
June 2007

Dating Violence, Sexual Assault, and Suicide Attempts Among Urban Teenagers

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Division of General Pediatrics, Department of Pediatrics, Columbia University Medical Center (Dr Olshen), Heilbrunn Department of Population and Family Health, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University (Drs Olshen and Rickert), and New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (Drs McVeigh and Wunsch-Hitzig), New York, NY.

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2007;161(6):539-545. doi:10.1001/archpedi.161.6.539
Abstract

Objective  To evaluate the relationship between dating violence, sexual assault, and suicide attempts among urban adolescents.

Design  Secondary analysis of the 2005 New York City Youth Risk Behavior Survey.

Setting  Eighty-seven New York City public high schools.

Participants  Representative population-based sample of 8080 students, 14 years and older.

Main Exposures  Dating violence in the past year and lifetime history of sexual assault.

Outcome Measure  One or more suicide attempts in the past year.

Results  Respondents were 50.0% female and primarily black (36.0%) or Hispanic (40.1%). In the past year, 11.7% of females and 7.2% of males reported 1 or more suicide attempts. Lifetime history of sexual assault was reported by 9.6% of females and 5.4% of males. Dating violence in the past year was reported by 10.6% of females and 9.5% of males. In multivariate models, controlling for persistent sadness, sexual orientation, and significant risk behaviors, recent dating violence (odds ratio, 1.61; 95% confidence interval, 1.05-2.47) was associated with suicide attempts in adolescent girls, while lifetime history of sexual assault (odds ratio, 3.86; 95% confidence interval, 2.11-7.06) was associated with suicide attempts in adolescent boys.

Conclusions  In this population of urban youth, recent dating violence among females and lifetime history of sexual assault among males were significantly associated with suicide attempts. Clinicians and educators should be trained to routinely screen adolescents for violence victimization and should have a low threshold for referring these at-risk teenagers for mental health services.

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