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Demographics as predictors of suicidal thoughts and behaviors

Title: Demographics as predictors of suicidal thoughts and behaviors: A meta-analysis.
Name(s): Huang, Xieyining, author
Ribeiro, Jessica D, author
Musacchio, Katherine M, author
Franklin, Joseph C, author
Type of Resource: text
Genre: Journal Article
Date Issued: 2017-07-10
Physical Form: computer
online resource
Extent: 1 online resource
Language(s): English
Abstract/Description: Certain demographic factors have long been cited to confer risk or protection for suicidal thoughts and behaviors. However, many studies have found weak or non-significant effects. Determining the effect strength and clinical utility of demographics as predictors is crucial for suicide risk assessment and theory development. As such, we conducted a meta-analysis to determine the effect strength and clinical utility of demographics as predictors. We searched PsycInfo, PubMed, and GoogleScholar for studies published before January 1st, 2015. Inclusion criteria required that studies use at least one demographic factor to longitudinally predict suicide ideation, attempt, or death. The initial search yielded 2,541 studies, 159 of which were eligible. A total of 752 unique statistical tests were included in analysis. Suicide death was the most commonly studied outcome, followed by attempt and ideation. The average follow-up length was 9.4 years. The overall effects of demographic factors studied in the field as risk factors were significant but weak, and that of demographic factors studied as protective factors were non-significant. Adjusting for publication bias further reduced effect estimates. No specific demographic factors appeared to be strong predictors. The effects were consistent across multiple moderators. At least within the narrow methodological constraints of the existing literature, demographic factors were statistically significant risk factors, but not protective factors. Even as risk factors, demographics offer very little improvement in predictive accuracy. Future studies that go beyond the limitations of the existing literature are needed to further understand the effects of demographics.
Identifier: FSU_pmch_28700728 (IID), 10.1371/journal.pone.0180793 (DOI), PMC5507259 (PMCID), 28700728 (RID), 28700728 (EID), PONE-D-16-37915 (PII)
Publication Note: This NIH-funded author manuscript originally appeared in PubMed Central at
Subject(s): Demography
Risk Assessment
Risk Factors
Suicidal Ideation
Suicide/statistics & numerical data
Suicide, Attempted/psychology
Suicide, Attempted/statistics & numerical data
Persistent Link to This Record:
Owner Institution: FSU
Is Part Of: PloS one.
Issue: iss. 7, vol. 12

Choose the citation style.
Huang, X., Ribeiro, J. D., Musacchio, K. M., & Franklin, J. C. (2017). Demographics as predictors of suicidal thoughts and behaviors: A meta-analysis. Plos One. Retrieved from