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OJJDP Bulletin Examines Suicidal Thoughts and Behaviors Among Detained Youth

July 23, 2014

Suicidal Thoughts PDF CoverOJJDP has released “Suicidal Thoughts and Behaviors Among Detained Youth.” The bulletin is part of OJJDP's Beyond Detention series, which examines the findings of the Northwestern Juvenile Project—a large-scale longitudinal study of youth detained at the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center in Chicago, IL. This bulletin summarizes the study’s methods, findings, and implications of suicidal thoughts and behaviors among detained youth ages 10–18. The authors examined rates of suicidal ideation and behaviors, the relationship between suicide attempts and psychiatric disorders, and differences by gender and race/ethnicity. Key findings include:

  • Approximately 1 in 10 juvenile detainees contemplated suicide in the past 6 months prior to detention, and 11 percent had attempted suicide.
  • More than one-third of detainees thought about death or dying in the 6 months prior to detention.
  • Suicide attempts were most prevalent in female detainees and youth with anxiety disorders.
  • Fewer than half of the detainees with suicidal thoughts told anyone.

The research signals the need for juvenile detention facilities to screen youth for suicide risk and increase psychiatric services.


Learn more about the Northwestern Juvenile Project, cosponsored by OJJDP.

Access other bulletins in the Beyond Detention series.

View and download the bulletin.