(HealthDay News) — Statewide job loss increases suicide-related behaviors among adolescent females and non-Hispanic blacks, according to a study published online August 14 in the American Journal of Public Health.

Anna Gassman-Pines, PhD, from the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University in Durham, NC, and colleagues used data from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (1997–2009) to estimate the effects of statewide job loss on adolescents’ suicidal ideation, suicide attempts, and suicide plans.

The researchers found that statewide job losses during the year preceding the survey increased girls’ probability of suicidal ideation and suicide plans and non-Hispanic black adolescents’ probability of suicidal ideation, suicide plans, and suicide attempts. There was an increased probability of girls and blacks reporting suicide-related behaviors by 2–3 percentage points with job losses among 1% of a state’s working-age population. Suicide-related behaviors of boys, non-Hispanic whites, or Hispanics were not affected by job losses. Similar results were seen with the inclusion of other state economic characteristics.

“Our results suggest that changes in economic contexts may serve as additional risk factors for suicide among particular groups of adolescents,” the authors write. “Our findings may be helpful to mental health, social services, and other professionals who seek to decrease suicide among young people by providing information about the specific groups of adolescents who may be at increased risk during economic contractions.”

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