ARCH Lab Examines Suicidal Ideation and Attempts Among Youth With Physical-Mental Comorbidity

The ARCH Lab recently published a paper titled “Suicidal ideation and attempts among youth with physical-mental comorbidity in Canada: proposal for an epidemiological study” in JMIR Research Protocols.

Evidence suggests that having a chronic physical illness (CPI; eg, asthma, diabetes, and epilepsy) is an independent risk factor for suicidality (ie, suicidal ideation or attempts) among youth. Less is known about the mechanisms linking CPI and suicidality. Some evidence suggests that mental illness (eg, depression and anxiety) or neurodevelopmental disorder (eg, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) mediates or moderates the CPI-suicidality association. Missing from the knowledge base is information on the association between having co-occurring CPI and mental illness or neurodevelopmental disorder (MIND) on youth suicidality.

This study will use epidemiological data from the 2019 Canadian Health Survey of Children and Youth (CHSCY), conducted by Statistics Canada to study the intersection of CPI, MIND, and suicidality in youth. The CHSCY collected data from 47,850 children (aged 1-17 years) and their primary caregiving parent.

Going forward, anticipated findings will provide estimates of suicidality among youth with CPI-MIND comorbidity, which will inform intervention planning to prevent loss of life in this vulnerable population. Understanding patterns of psychiatric service use is vital to understanding access and barriers to services. Results will inform whether use matches need, identifying opportunities to advise policy makers about upstream resources to prevent suicidality

Importantly, findings will provide robust baseline of information on the link between CPI-MIND comorbidity and suicidality in youth, which can be used by future studies to address questions related to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated countermeasures in this vulnerable population of youth.