This study was designed to test the hypothesis that adolescents who perceive their attachment figures as unavailable (low felt security) would be overrepresented in the case group of adolescents with a history of suicidal behaviours.
One hundred and eighty-seven adolescents in psychiatric treatment participated in this retrospective case-comparison study of attachment-felt security and history of suicidal behaviours. All participants completed the following measures: Adolescent Attachment Questionnaire, Perceived Social Support From Friends Scale, Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale, Beck Hopelessness Scale, the depression syndrome scale of the Youth Self Report, and Adam's Suicidal Ideation and Behavior protocol.
The comparison group comprised 101 adolescents who had never experienced suicidal ideation or behaviour; the case group included 86 adolescents with a history of suicidal behaviour. We found that perceived unavailability and high levels of depressive symptomatology were predictive of suicidal behaviours. We also found a strong association between being older and having high levels of angry distress in adolescents with a history of suicidal behaviours.
The advantage of including an assessment of parent-adolescent attachment with clinical adolescents is noted.