Suicidality risk in children and adolescents with externalizing disorders: symptoms profiles at high risk and the moderating role of dysregulated family relationships

Tomer Levy*, Hali Kil, Russell James Schachar, Liat Itzhaky, Brendan F. Andrade

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Children and adolescents with externalizing disorders are at risk for suicidal ideation or behavior. Factors that put them at risk could be symptoms related or facilitated by their environment. We evaluated the links of symptoms profiles with suicidality, and the effects of family relationship characteristics on these links. Latent profile analysis was used to subgroup participants referred for ADHD assessment (n = 1249, aged 6–17) based on their externalizing and internalizing symptoms. Self- and parent-reported child suicidal ideation (S–SI, P-SI), and parent-reported self-harm behavior (P-SHB) were compared across profiles. The moderating effects of parent-reported marital conflict and parenting practices were examined. A four-profile model showed optimal fit. Participants of the Low Symptoms profile followed by the Inattentive-Hyperactive/Impulsive profile showed lower P-SI compared to those of the Irritable-Defiant and the Conduct Problems profiles. Low Symptoms participants also reported lower S–SI compared to those of the Inattentive-Hyperactive/Impulsive and the Irritable-Defiant profiles. Participants of the Irritable-Defiant and the Conduct Problems profiles had higher P-SHB compared to the Low Symptoms and the Inattentive-Hyperactive/Impulsive participants. Dysregulated marital conflict practices were associated with greater increase in P-SI in all profiles compared to the Low Symptoms profile. Aggressive marital conflict practices were associated with increased P-SHB in the Conduct Problems profile compared to the Inattentive-Hyperactive/Impulsive profile. Children and adolescents with irritability and defiance symptoms with or without conduct problems show higher risk for suicidal ideation and behavior compared to those with ADHD symptoms alone. Dysregulated and aggressive marital conflict practices might pose additional suicidality risk in children and adolescents with disruptive behavior.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2023

Keywords

  • Externalizing disorders
  • Marital discord
  • Parenting style
  • Self-harm
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Suicide behavior

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