Little is known about rates and correlates of suicidal ideation among nonclinical samples of preadolescents from low-income urban backgrounds. Using the Children's Depression Inventory, we measured suicidal ideation in 131 preadolescent urban children (49% female, 90% African American/Caribbean) participating in an ongoing prospective longitudinal study of prenatal cocaine exposure and children's outcome. Suicidal ideation was reported by 14.5% of the children in this sample at 9 to 10 years of age. Children's reports of depressive symptoms, exposure to violence, and distress symptoms in response to witnessing violence were associated with suicidal ideation, but prenatal cocaine exposure, parent-rated child behavior, and caregivers' psychological distress symptoms were not. Suicidal ideation may be more prevalent among preadolescents from urban, low-income backgrounds than clinicians suspect, particularly among children exposed to violence.
1Department of Psychiatry, Boston University School of Medicine
2Department of Pediatrics, Boston University School of Medicine
3Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Boston University School of Medicine
4Department of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School
5Department of Biostatistics, Boston University School of Public Health
6Department of Biostatistics, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts
Received February 2005; accepted July 2005.
Catherine C. O'Leary is now in private practice in Los Gatos, CA. Wanda Grant-Knight is now with the Department of Pediatrics, Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.
Address for reprints: Catherine O'Leary Eckel, Ph.D., 207 Chalet Place, Campbell, CA 95008; e-mail: Catherine_eckel@yahoo.com.