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Profiles of Risk for Self-injurious Thoughts and Behaviors Among System-Impacted Girls of Color

NCJ Number
Jounal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Volume: Online Dated: 2023
Date Published

This study examined the risk for self-injurious thoughts and behavior among girls of color impacted by the juvenile legal justice system.


Profiles of risk for self-injurious thoughts and behaviors (SITBs) were investigated in a sample of 240 racially and ethnically diverse system-impacted girls (mean [SD] age = 14.5 [1.7] years, Hispanic/Latinx 49.6%, Black 37.1%). Results suggest that indicators of suicide risk can be used to classify system-impacted girls into profiles that differ concurrently and prospectively on SITBs. Findings could be used to inform more accurate risk and referral assessments for system-impacted girls of color, whose SITB-related challenges may be overlooked or framed as criminal. These findings highlight the continued need for assessments evaluating multiple indicators of risk for SITBs in the juvenile legal system. Participants completed self-report measures evaluating traditional risk factors for suicide (mental health symptoms, trauma exposure) as well as assessments of minority stress (e.g., daily discrimination) and recent engagement in SITBs at baseline and 3-month follow-up. Latent profile analysis revealed 3 distinct profiles: low-risk, characterized by relatively low levels of suicide risk indicators (n = 102); high-risk internalizing, characterized by elevations in internalizing symptom indicators (n = 96); and high-risk comorbid, characterized by relatively high levels of suicide risk indicators (n = 42). Girls in the high-risk profiles reported more SITBs at baseline and 3-month follow-up than girls in the low-risk profile. Suicide is a leading cause of death among youth in custodial settings. Prior research investigating risk factors for suicide among system-impacted youth fail to incorporate an intersectional framework to contextualize suicide risk among system-impacted girls of color. (Published Abstract Provided)

Date Published: January 1, 2023