Adolescents under social stress are more likely to engage in suicidal behavior: study
Adolescents who have more trouble resolving interpersonal difficulties efficiently when under social stress, as well as those who have more interpersonal stress in their lives, are more likely to engage in suicidal behavior, according to a study published by the American Association of Psychology. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among adolescents, and rates of suicidal behavior are particularly high among girls. Previous research has found that interpersonal stressors, such as conflicts with peers, friends, and family, are linked to suicidal behavior.
Some theories of suicidal behavior suggest that poor social problem-solving skills may contribute to attachment, possibly because adolescents with poorer social problem-solving skills are more likely to view suicide as a viable solution to their distress when they feel that they have exhausted others. options
The current study aimed to test these associations considering both experimentally simulated and real-world measures of social stress. The research was published in the Journal of Psychopathology and Clinical Science.
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“The findings provide empirical support for cognitive and behavioral theories of suicide that suggest that deficits in the skills to effectively manage and resolve interpersonal problems may be related to suicidal behavior,” said study lead author Olivia Pollak. , MA, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “Clinically, this is remarkable, as problem solving figures prominently in several treatments for suicidal or self-injurious behaviors.”
The participants were 185 girls between the ages of 12 and 17 who had experienced some mental health problems in the last two years. At the start of the study, the participants completed surveys or interviews about their mental health symptoms and suicidal behaviors. The participants also completed a task to assess their social problem-solving skills, which involved responding to scenarios involving interpersonal conflict or challenges with other people, such as peers, friends, family members, and romantic partners.
The teens were then asked to perform a task that has been shown in previous studies to induce social stress: They had to prepare and deliver a three-minute speech to what they thought was an audience of peers watching through a link. Of video. Immediately after the stressful task, they again completed the social problem-solving task to see if experiencing social stress caused a decline in their problem-solving ability.
The researchers also followed the girls for nine months, checking on them every three months, to ask them about stressors they were experiencing in interpersonal domains, such as with peers, friends and family, as well as suicidal behavior.
Overall, the researchers found that girls who showed greater declines in problem solving in the lab and who also experienced higher levels of interpersonal stress during the nine-month follow-up period were more likely to exhibit suicidal behavior during the nine-month follow-up period. nine months. follow-up period of one month. “Importantly, problem-solving deficits under distress may increase the risk of future suicidal behavior only in combination with increased real-life cumulative interpersonal stress,” Pollak said.
“The risk of suicidal behavior was higher among adolescents who showed larger declines in effectiveness and who experienced high levels of interpersonal stress during the nine-month follow-up, which is consistent with strong evidence of links between interpersonal life stress and suicidal behavior.