Upcoming paper at the American Public Health Association Annual Meeting – suicidality and young adults with disabilities

Suicidality and help-seeking behaviors among young adults with disabilities: Implications for suicide prevention

Little is known about the prevalence of suicidality among young adults with disabilities. The transition into young adult life is often fraught with a range of developmental and social challenges regardless of disability – challenges which may be exacerbated through the experience of living with a disability. By developing a better sense of how suicidality manifests among young adults with disabilities, professionals can better target suicide prevention efforts and support the larger disability policy goals of community inclusion and social justice for an often-marginalized population. Drawing on data from the Community Psychiatric Epidemiology Study, a nationally-representative survey, the study sample consists of young adults with disabilities aged 18-24 (N=3,132,310) and a randomly-selected comparison group of young adults without disabilities (N=3,100,000). Given existing documentation of gender, racial and ethnic disparities in the prevalence of suicidality among youth in general, sub-population analyses are also presented. Age and gender-adjusted odds ratios for nine measures of suicide risk were derived from logistic regression analyses. Findings suggest that young adults with disabilities are over two times times as likely as their counterparts to report past year (adjusted odds ratio (AOR)=2.98, p<.001) suicidal ideation, suicide plan-making (AOD=2.5, p<.001) or actual suicide attempts (AOR=2.4, p<.001). Implications relate to the need for transition planners across health and social service settings to be attuned to the increased risk faced by this population, and trained in both screening and assessment tools as well as appropriate intervention and/or referral strategies.