Maternal versus adolescent reports of suicidal behaviors: a nationwide survey in Israel

Gil Zalsman, Gal Shoval, Ivonne Mansbach-Kleinfeld, Ilana Farbstein, Rasim Kanaaneh, Gad Lubin, Alan Apter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Community and nationwide surveys on adolescent suicidal behaviors using clinical interviews are not abundant. Rates of self-reported suicide attempts in community samples vary greatly between 1 and 20 %. In general, adolescent and parental agreement in child psychiatry practice is low, and their agreement with regard to suicidal behavior is unknown. The current study assesses the rates of suicidal ideation and behaviors as well as the rate of agreement between adolescents and their mothers in a representative nationwide sample. The survey included a representative and randomized community sample of 14- to 17-year-old adolescents (n = 957), and their mothers who were interviewed using the Development and Well-Being Assessment Inventory (DAWBA). The prevalence of suicidal ideation and self-initiated behaviors was 4.9 and 1.9 %, respectively. The concordance between mothers’ and adolescents’ reporting on ideation was low (7.3 %). There was no concordance between mothers’ and adolescents’ reports of suicidal acts. Adolescents reported self-initiated behaviors nearly three times more frequently than their mothers. Paternal unemployment, care by welfare agencies and having a psychiatric disorder, specifically depression or post-traumatic stress disorder, was associated with a higher risk for both suicidal ideation and attempts. In this nationwide community study, by evaluating information gathered by clinical interviews, it was found that the lifetime rates of suicidal ideation were moderate. The rates of suicide attempts were lower than have been previously reported. The concordance between the reports of adolescents and their mothers was low for ideation and nonexistent for attempts. Thus, clinicians should interview adolescents separately from their mothers regarding their suicidality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1349-1359
Number of pages11
JournalEuropean Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This survey was supported by a grant from the Israel National Institute for Health Policy and Health Services Research. Dr. Ivonne Mansbach-Kleinfeld was employed full-time during the planning, data collection, analyses, and writing stages by the Mental Health Services Department of the Ministry of Health of Israel.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.


  • Adolescence
  • Attempted suicide
  • Bias
  • Epidemiology
  • Health survey
  • Parents


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