Date of Award

12-5-2008

Degree Type

Closed Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)

Department

Public Health

First Advisor

Monica H. Swahn - Chair

Second Advisor

Frances McCarty

Abstract

In 2005, suicide was the third leading cause of death among youth 10-24 years of age in the U.S. —accounting for 4,482 deaths. Youth suicide is an important public health problem in the U.S. and research focusing specifically on gender differences is needed and warranted since recent research shows that rates of suicide attempts have increased specifically among young girls. Analyses of the recently released 2007 YRBS data (n=14,041; girls=7,036; boys=6,992) of high school students in 9-12th grades, show that 6.9% of adolescents attempted suicide (9.3% of girls versus 4.6% of boys) and 14.5% seriously considered a suicide attempt (18.7% of girls versus 10.3% of boys). Girls are 2.89 (95% CI: 2.31-3.61) times more likely than boys to report attempting suicide in the past 12 months. Moreover, girls who reported attempting suicide were significantly more likely to also report other risk factors such as depression (OR= 5.74), weapon carrying (OR= 1.48), experiencing intimate partner violence (OR=1.60), being forced to have sexual intercourse (1.72), huffing glue (OR=2.04), and being a minority (OR 1.65). However, boys who reported attempting suicide were significantly more likely to also report weapon carrying (OR=1.66), being forced to have sexual intercourse (OR=2.60), huffing glue (OR=1.63), participating in sports (OR=1.52), depression (OR=10.96), hard drug use (OR=2.18), and being a minority (OR=1.93). Furthermore, analyses of 1991 – 2007 YRBS data revealed that these gender specific risks have remained fairly constant over time. These findings will help guide prevention and intervention strategies to prevent suicide and suicidal behaviors among both girls and boys.

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