Predicting Suicidal Ideation in Adolescents With Chronic Amplified Pain: The Roles of Depression and Pain Duration


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Abstract

The rates of suicidal ideation and completed suicide among adolescents have become increasingly alarming in recent years. Epidemiological studies indicate that a large portion of adolescents suffer from chronic pain, which research supports as a risk factor for suicidal ideation and behaviors. Further, psychological factors may account for the associations between chronic pain and suicidality. The current study sought to fill gaps in the literature on chronic pain and suicidality in adolescents, by examining whether depression mediates the links between various chronic amplified pain symptoms and suicidal ideation. Retrospective medical record reviews were conducted of 453 adolescents ages 11–17 (M = 14.34, SD = 1.83), who presented to a tertiary pain clinic and received a diagnosis of amplified pain. Prior to their initial appointment, participants completed measures assessing pain symptoms, disability, depression, and suicidality. We found pain duration was significantly related to suicidal ideation, however, this association was mediated by depressive symptoms. These results highlight the need for early screening and intervention for depressive symptoms among adolescents suffering from amplified pain. Clinical recommendations for mental health and medical providers are discussed.

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