Longitudinal patterns and predictors of suicidal ideation in African American adolescents

Christopher R. Whipple, W. La Vome Robinson, Caleb E. Flack, Leonard A. Jason, Kate Keenan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Suicide rates among African American adolescents have increased dramatically. Suicidal ideation is associated with both suicide attempts and completions, thus understanding ideation patterns and predictors in African American adolescents is critical to informing prevention efforts. This study recruited 160 African American ninth grade students. Participants were those students randomized to the control condition of a randomized controlled preventive intervention. Of the 160 participants, 99 completed all assessment points and were included in latent transition analyses. We assessed participants four times: baseline then again at 6-, 12-, and 18-month postbaseline. Constructs of interest for this study included suicidal ideation, depression, hopelessness, and community violence exposure. A 2-class model (i.e., low ideation [LI] and high ideation [HI]) characterized ideation at each time point. A total of 86%–90% of participants were in the LI class in any given time point and 27.3% of participants were in the HI class at least once. Participants in the LI class tended to stay in that class, whereas those in the HI class often transitioned to the LI group. Depression and hopelessness, but not exposure to community violence, predicted HI class membership. Findings suggest that (a) most African American adolescents may experience suicide ideation at some point in time, (b) a concerning proportion of African American adolescents may experience high ideation, (c) high ideation is often time-limited, and (d) depression and hopelessness predict high ideation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)453-464
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican Journal of Community Psychology
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Jun 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Applied Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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