To describe sociodemographic and clinical characteristics of youth and young adults with type 1 diabetes who endorsed suicidal ideations as part of routine depression screening and the results of their suicide risk assessments.
The Patient Health Questionnaire–9 was used to assess depressive symptoms and suicide/death ideation in 550 youth and young adults with type 1 diabetes ages 10–24 years. Only individuals who endorsed suicidal/death ideations (n = 49) completed a standardized suicide risk assessment protocol and safety planning.
Nine percent of individuals endorsed suicidal/death ideation and of those, 83.4% reported clinically elevated depressive symptoms; 16% made a previous suicide attempt. No youth (n = 39) or young adults (n = 11) disclosed current plans or preparations for suicide, but five who expressed suicidal ideation acknowledged the lethality of insulin for an attempt. Three previously used insulin to attempt suicide. The overwhelming majority of individuals were classified as being low risk for future suicide attempt/completion. None were hospitalized as a part of the suicide risk assessment, and no suicide completions have occurred.
The findings of this study provide initial insight into the behaviors and cognitions of youth and young adults with type 1 diabetes who experience suicidal and death ideations. Comprehensive suicide risk assessment and safety planning are feasible during routine type 1 diabetes clinic appointments.