A recent study (published August 13, 2012 in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology) by Hinshaw and Colleagues found that girls who were diagnosed early with ADHD had significantly higher rates of suicide attempts and self-harming behaviors.
The study was longitudinal and randomly controlled (the gold standard in clinical research) and started with girls between 6 and 12 years old. This study was a ten year follow up (current age of girls: 16-22) to assess the outcomes of girls diagnosed with ADHD (with a control comparison group). While the other findings in the study are interesting, I think the most important findings for parents and clinicians is the high rates of suicide attempts and self-harming behaviors for the girls. Girls diagnosed with ADHD combined type (hyperactive and inattentive) were 4.4 times more likely to self-harm than the control group. Girls diagnosed with ADHD combined type were 2.5 times more likely to self-harm than girls diagnosed with ADHD inattentive type. Suicide attempts for girls diagnosed with ADHD combined type were 3.5 times greater than girls diagnosed with ADHD inattentive and 4.5 times greater than the control group.
While these results are alarming and troubling, the next step would be to continue to build the relationship between parent and child and make sure the lines of communication are open. If you are able to talk with your child, and they are comfortable talking with you, you are more likely to intervene if they have self-harming thoughts. Naturally, if you suspect self-harm or suicidal thoughts, contact a therapist and inform your medical doctor immediately. The earlier the detection and intervention of these behaviors, the better the outcome is likely to be.
What are your thoughts about this new research? Do you know the warning signs of self-harm or suicidal ideation?
Written by Michael Whitehead, originally posted on theparentscorner.blogspot.com. Reprinted with permission from the author.
Hinshaw, S. P., Owens, E. B., Zalecki, C., Huggins, S. P., Montenegro-Nevado, A. J., Schrodek, E., & Swanson, E. N. (2012, August 13). Prospective Follow-Up of Girls With Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Into Early Adulthood: Continuing Impairment Includes Elevated Risk for Suicide Attempts and Self-Injury. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0029451
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