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Original article

Vol. 154 No. 4 (2024)

Prevalence of and risk factors for suicidal ideation in adolescents during the COVID-19 pandemic: a cross-sectional study

Cite this as:
Swiss Med Wkly. 2024;154:3461


BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Pandemic-related life changes may have had a deleterious impact on suicidal behaviours. Early detection of suicidal ideation and identification of subgroups at increased risk could help prevent suicide, one of the leading causes of death among adolescents worldwide. Here, we aimed to investigate the prevalence of and risk factors for suicidal ideation in adolescents using a population-based sample from Switzerland, two years into the pandemic.

METHODS: Between December 2021 and June 2022, adolescents aged 14 to 17 years already enrolled in a population-based cohort study (State of Geneva, Switzerland) were asked about suicidal ideation over the previous year. In addition to a regression model, we conducted a network analysis of exposures which identified direct and indirect risk factors for suicidal ideation (i.e. those connected through intermediate risk factors) using mixed graphical models.

RESULTS: Among 492 adolescents, 14.4% (95% CI: 11.5–17.8) declared having experienced suicidal ideation over the previous year. Using network analysis, we found that high psychological distress, low self-esteem, identifying as lesbian, gay or bisexual, suffering from bullying, extensive screen time and a severe COVID-19 pandemic impact were major risk factors for suicidal ideation, with parent-adolescent relationship having the highest centrality strength in the network.

CONCLUSION: Our results show that a significant proportion of adolescents experience suicidal ideation, yet these rates are comparable with pre-pandemic results. Providing psychological support is fundamental, with a focus on improving parent-adolescent relationships.


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