Journal of Child and Adolescent Mental Health

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Family functioning and suicidal ideation/behaviour in adolescents: a pilot study

Lindsay J van Renen, Lauren G Wild


Objective: The main aim of this study was to explore the associations between specific aspects of family functioning and adolescent suicidal ideation/behaviour.
Method: Participants were 87 high school students (43 male and 44 female) aged between 14 and 16 years of age. They completed a questionnaire measuring various aspects of family functioning and suicidal ideation/behaviour. The specific dimensions of family functioning assessed were: connection, psychological control and behavioural regulation in the parent-adolescent relationship, family conflict and family structure.
Results: The results of t-test and chi-square analyses indicated that adolescents who reported suicidal ideation or behaviour in the previous year experienced lower levels of connection and regulation and higher levels of conflict and psychological control in the parent-child relationship than non-suicidal adolescents. Family structure and interparental conflict were not significantly associated with suicidal ideation/behaviour.
Conclusions: The quality of relationships between adolescents and both of their parents may be important in distinguishing South African adolescents with recent suicidal ideation/behaviour from non-suicidal controls.

Journal of Child and Adolescent Mental Health 2008, 20(2): 111–121
AJOL African Journals Online