Teenagers' sense of invalidation linked to suicide risk

Teenagers' sense of invalidation linked to suicide risk

Independent of other known risk factors, measuring the sense of family or peer invalidation - or lack of acceptance - that teenagers harbour can help predict whether they will try to harm themselves or attempt suicide, says a study.

In some cases, such a sense of lack of invalidation could come from being bullied, said the study.

"In the case of family, a teenager who is gay may feel a strong degree of invalidation if he or she perceives that parents would either disapprove or be disappointed upon finding out," said Shirley Yen, an associate professor of psychiatry and human behaviour at the Brown University in the US.

The team observed 99 teenagers, who had been hospitalised out of fear of committing suicide, for six months of follow-up. Along the way they assessed the teens' sense of family and peer invalidation and found that a high perception of family invalidation led to future suicide events among boys and peer invalidation predicted future self harm, among teenagers.

A moderate to high perception of family invalidation proved a statistically significant predictor of a later suicide event among boys, the findings showed.

"What this points to is the importance of assessing the teen's individual feelings of invalidation," Yen noted.

The study appeared in the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology.

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