Reexamining Adolescent Suicidal Ideation: A Developmental Perspective Applied to a Diverse Population

Maureen O. Marcenko, Gideon Fishman, Jeffrey Friedman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The purpose of this study was to test the hypothesis that suicidal ideation is a common experience in a general population of African American, Hispanic, and White urban high school students residing in low-income neighborhoods. Based upon a developmental framework, it was hypothesized that once attitudes toward suicide were controlled, ideation would not vary significantly by ethnicity, gender, or psychosocial variables usually associated with ideation. The multivariate analysis revealed that ideation did not vary by ethnicity however, females, substance users, and those with greater tolerance toward suicide, higher family coping, and lower self-esteem were more likely to report ideation. A series of ideator profiles, calculated from the probability estimates, showed that an increase in tolerance substantially raises the likelihood of ideation. The results taken together raise the question of whether it is time to reconceptualize the relationship between ideation and normal adolescent development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-138
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Youth and Adolescence
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1999

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was funded by a grant from the University of Pennsylvania, School of Social Work. 1Associate Professor at the University of Washington. Received Ph.D. in social welfare from McGill University. Major research interests are in family interventions. To whom correspondence should be addressed at School of Social Work, University of Washington, 4101-15th Ave., N.E., Seattle, Washington 918105-6299. 2Professor at Haifa University. Received Ph.D. in Sociology from Ohio State University. Major research interests are judicial policy, ethnicity and the legal system, and violent behavior. 3Director of a residential treatment program. Received his Ph.D. in social welfare at the University of Pennsylvania. Major research interests are in adolescents and family practice.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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