Suicide Plans and Attempts As Predictors of Carrying Weapons Among Adolescents
Methods:Data from the 2011 YRBS was accessed and downloaded from the CDC’s website. Five dichotomous variables, felt sad for two weeks or more, seriously considered attempting suicide, made a suicide plan, attempted suicide one or more times, and being injured after attempting suicide, were selected as predictor variables for carrying a weapon, carrying a gun, and carrying a weapon on school grounds in the past thirty days. Logistic regression was used to determine the predictability of the five variables. Age, gender, and race were controlled, as well as nine other variables previously identified in the literature as predictive of carrying a weapon (i.e., drinking alcohol before the age of thirteen, feeling threatened, physical fights in the community and at school, being injured from a fight, and being bullied).
Results: The sample consisted of 10623 adolescents (m=5453, 51.3%) between the ages of fourteen and eighteen. 1706 (16.1%) adolescents reported carrying a weapon, 499 (4.7%) reported carrying a gun, and 508 (4.8%) adolescents reported carrying a weapon to school. Chi-square results suggest significant relationships among all dependent and predictor variables. The results from the logistic regression indicate that: (1) making a suicide plan (OR=1.85, 95% CI:1.53-2.24) and attempting suicide (OR=1.4, 95% CI:1.1-1.79) increases the likelihood of carrying a weapon; (2) attempting suicide (OR=1.96, 95% CI:1.44-2.67) increases the likelihood of carrying a gun; and (3) making a suicide plan (OR=2.32, 95% CI:1.82-2.95) and being injured after a suicide attempt (OR= 1.77, 95% CI:1.14-2.76) increases the likelihood of carrying a weapon on school grounds.
Discussion: The results of this study indicate that making a suicide plan, attempting suicide, and being injured from a suicide attempt are predictive behaviors for carrying a weapon, carrying a gun, and carrying a weapon on school grounds. To the best of the author’s knowledge, it is believed that this is the first time that making a suicide plan and being injured from a suicide attempt have been associated with carrying a weapon on school grounds. Furthermore, an important detail that this data does not explain is the intent (i.e., self-harm or to harm others) that adolescents with suicidal ideations have with carrying a weapon, especially on school grounds. These results highlight the need for improved suicide assessments and preventive interventions.