"These differences suggest that distinct prediction and prevention strategies are needed for ideation [suicidal thoughts], plans among ideators, planned attempts and unplanned attempts," they concluded.
One expert believes the findings must be put into perspective, however.
"It is important to emphasize that the majority of adolescents, and adults for that matter, who think about suicide do not go on to make an attempt, yet ideation is a significant predictor of both plan and attempt," said Lanny Berman, executive director of the American Association of Suicidology.
He noted that the new study found that 40 percent of first suicide attempts by teens were unplanned. That number is "higher than that found among adults (26 percent), reflecting the greater impulsivity of adolescents," Berman said.
Yet little is understood about what drives teens to think about, plan and commit suicide, Berman added.
Clinicians need to appreciate that the majority of those who think about suicide, and who then plan and/or attempt suicide, do so within a year, Berman said.
"In that sense, what we need a greater understanding about is near-term predictors of suicidal behavior -- what is associated with suicide attempts and death by suicide in the next 12 months or, even better, the next 30 days," he said.
In addition, factors associate with suicides aren't always clear, but may involve hopelessness, feelings of meaninglessness, purposelessness or being trapped, insomnia and binge drinking, Berman said.
Also, behavioral clues that signal near-term risk among young people who do not communicate suicide ideation are needed, he said.
For more on suicide, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
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