Cognitive Risk and Protective Factors for Suicidal Ideation: A Two Year Longitudinal Study in Adolescence

Taylor A. Burke, Samantha L. Connolly, Jessica L. Hamilton, Jonathan P. Stange, Lyn Y. Abramson, Lauren B. Alloy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Adolescence is a developmental period associated with heightened risk for both the onset and escalation of suicidal ideation (SI). Given that SI is a potent predictor of suicidal behavior, it is important to develop models of vulnerability for and protection against SI, particularly among young adolescents. This study examined the relative impact of several cognitive vulnerabilities, as well as protective factors, for SI among young adolescents over a 2-year interval encompassing their transition to mid-adolescence. At baseline, 324 adolescents (M = 12.39 years; SD = 0.63; 52.5 % female) completed measures of depressive symptoms, self-referent information processing biases, negative inferential style, and responses to negative affect. Further, the adolescents and their mothers were administered a diagnostic interview to assess current and past depressive disorders and SI. Over follow-up, adolescents and their mothers were administered the diagnostic interview every 12 months and adolescents completed a self-report measure inquiring about SI every 6 months to assess interviewer-rated and self-reported SI. Logistic regressions indicated that preferential endorsement of negative adjectives as self-referent (only among girls), rumination in response to negative affect, and a negative inferential style prospectively predicted SI. Additionally, young adolescents’ tendency to respond to negative affect with distraction and problem-solving buffered against their risk for exhibiting SI. When these factors were entered simultaneously, preferential endorsement of negative adjectives as self-referent and the use of distraction and problem-solving skills remained the only significant prospective predictors of SI. No previous studies have examined these variables as predictors of SI, thereby highlighting their potential utility in improving the predictive validity of extant models of suicide risk and resilience.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1145-1160
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Abnormal Child Psychology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Aug 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


  • Distraction
  • Information processing biases
  • Negative inferential style
  • Problem-solving
  • Rumination
  • Suicidal ideation


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