Predictors of suicide coping self-efficacy among youth presenting to a psychiatric emergency department

Arango A, Czyz EK, Magness CS, Hong V, Smith T, Kettley J, Ewell Foster C

Abstract

Introduction: Low levels of youth-reported self-efficacy to cope with suicidal urges have been shown to prospectively predict repeat emergency department (ED) visits and suicide attempts, yet little is known about how self-efficacy may change following receipt of crisis services or about factors that may strengthen self-efficacy. Protective factors (e.g., parent-reported youth competence, parent-family connectedness, and receipt of mental health services) were examined in relation to self-efficacy at the time of a psychiatric ED visit and 2 weeks later.

Methods: Participants were 205 youth (ages 10-17), presenting to a psychiatric ED due to a suicide-related concern. Youth primarily identified as biological female (63%) and White (87%). Multivariate hierarchical linear regressions were used to examine candidate protective factors in relation to initial and follow-up suicide coping self-efficacy.

Results: Self-efficacy significantly improved in the 2 weeks following the ED visit. Parent-family connectedness was positively related to suicide coping self-efficacy at the time of the ED visit. Parent-family connectedness and receipt of inpatient psychiatric care following the ED visit were associated with higher follow-up suicide coping self-efficacy.

Conclusions: During the adolescent developmental period when suicidal thoughts and behaviors notably increase, study findings highlight potential malleable intervention targets, including parent-family connectedness, that may strengthen suicide coping self-efficacy.

Keywords: connectedness; emergency department; self-efficacy; suicide ideation; youth.