Suicidal ideation and substance use among adolescents and young adults: A bidirectional relation?




Xiaoyun Zhang, Li-Tzy Wu

Drug and Alcohol Dependence

Volume 142, 1 September 2014






To examine reciprocal associations between substance use (cigarette smoking, use of alcohol, marijuana, and other illegal drugs) and suicidal ideation among adolescents and young adults (aged 1121 at wave 1; aged 2432 at wave 4).



Four waves public-use Add Health data were used in the analysis (N = 3342). Respondents were surveyed in 1995, 1996, 20012002, and 20082009. Current regular smoking, past-year alcohol use, past-year marijuana use, and ever use of other illegal drugs as well as past-year suicidal ideation were measured at the four waves (1995, 1996, 20012002, and 20082009). Fixed effects models with lagged dependent variables were modeled to test unidirectional associations between substance use and suicidal ideation, and nonrecursive models with feedback loops combining correlated fixed factors were conducted to examine reciprocal relations between each substance use and suicidal ideation, respectively.



After adjusting for the latent time-invariant effects and lagged effects of dependent variables, the unidirectional associations from substance use to suicidal ideation were consistently significant, and vice versa. Nonrecursive model results showed that use of cigarette or alcohol increased risk of suicidal ideation, while suicidal ideation was not associated with cigarette or alcohol use. Reversely, drug use (marijuana and other drugs) did not increase risk of suicidal ideation, but suicidal ideation increased risk of illicit drug use.



The results suggest that relations between substance use and suicidal ideation are unidirectional, with cigarette or alcohol use increasing risk of suicidal ideation and suicidal ideation increasing risk of illicit drug use.







Human Services and Justice Coordinating Committee