Suicidal ideation in a community-derived sample of Spanish adolescents.


INTRODUCTION: Suicide is a current public health problem and among the main causes of mortality in adolescents and young adults. The main goal of this study was to analyse suicidal ideation in a representative sample of Spanish adolescents. Specifically, the prevalence rates of suicide ideation, the psychometric properties of the Paykel Suicide Scale (PSS) scores, and the socio-emotional adjustment of adolescents at risk for suicide were analysed. MATERIAL AND METHODS: The sample consisted of 1,664 participants (M=16.12 years, SD=1.36, range 14-19 years), selected by stratified sampling by clusters. The instruments used were the PSS, the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire, the Personal Wellbeing Index-School Children, and the Oviedo Infrequency Scale. RESULTS: The results showed that 4.1% of the sample indicated that they had tried to commit suicide in the previous year. Statistically significant differences were found according to gender but not according to age in the PSS mean scores. The analysis of the internal structure of the PSS showed that the one-dimensional model presented excellent goodness of fit indexes. This model showed measurement invariance across gender. The reliability of the scores, estimated with ordinal alpha, was 0.93. Participants who reported suicide ideation showed poorer mental health status and lower life satisfaction compared to the non-suicide ideation group. CONCLUSIONS: Suicidal ideation is present during adolescence and is associated with poor subjective well-being and increased emotional and behavioural problems. PSS seems to show adequate psychometric behaviour to assess suicidal ideation in adolescents. These findings have clear implications, both in health and education systems, to improve the promotion of emotional well-being and prevention of psychological and psychiatric problems in this sector of the population.