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Asthma, Depression, and Suicidality

Results from the 2007, 2009, and 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Surveys

Steinberg, Leah MD*; Aldea, Ivanjo MD; Messias, Erick MD, MPH, PhD

The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease: September 2015 - Volume 203 - Issue 9 - p 664–669
doi: 10.1097/NMD.0000000000000349
Original Articles
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We assessed the association between asthma and suicidality in a nationally representative sample of US high school students. Data came from the 2007, 2009, and 2011 Youth Risk Behavioral Surveys. Weighted prevalence estimates and adjusted odds ratios were calculated. Subjects with asthma are more likely to report 2-week sadness (35.2%) compared to those without asthma (26.7%). Teens with asthma are also more likely to report suicide ideation (20.1% vs. 15%), planning (15.7% vs. 12.1%), attempt (10.1% vs. 6.9%), and treatment for attempt (3.5% vs. 2%). Although the unadjusted association between lifetime asthma and suicide attempts is statistically significant (crude odds ratio 1.5 (95% CI 1.3–1.8)), after controlling for confounders, that association is no longer statistically significant (AOR 1.2 (1–1.6)). Thus, this increase in suicidality seems to be due to the increased prevalence of sadness among teens with asthma. Similar patterns were seen in the 2007 and 2009 surveys.

*Department of Psychiatry, SUNY Downstate Medical Center, Brooklyn, NY; †Department of Psychiatry, Brown University, Providence, RI; and ‡Department of Psychiatry, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, AR.

Send reprint requests to Leah Steinberg, MD, Department of Psychiatry, SUNY Downstate Medical Center, Brooklyn, NY. E-mail: leah.steinberg@downstate.edu.

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