Attachment organization and history of suicidal behavior in clinical adolescents. Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • One hundred thirty-three adolescents in psychiatric treatment participated in a case-comparison study investigating the association of attachment patterns with a history of suicidal behaviors. The comparison group comprised 64 adolescents who had never experienced suicidal ideation or behaviors; the case group included 69 adolescents with histories of suicidal behavior (n = 53) and severe suicidal ideation (n =16). Attachment patterns were assessed using the Adult Attachment Interview. In accordance with definitions provided in the scoring system, 86% of case and 78% of comparison adolescents in psychiatric treatment had experienced attachment-related trauma. Lapses in the monitoring of reasoning or discourse occurred during the attempted discussion of these events in 73% of adolescents in the case group but in only 44% of adolescents in the clinical comparison group (p = .002), suggesting that cognitive disorganization may be an important variable mediating between traumatic experience and suicidal behavior. Female adolescents and older adolescents were significantly more likely than other adolescents to be in the case group. Preoccupied attachment, in interaction with unresolved-disorganized attachment, was associated with the case group, whereas dismissing attachment was associated with the comparison group.

publication date

  • April 1996