Category: ADHD - Child

Symposium

Suicidal Ideation and ADHD Symptoms in Emerging Adults: The Roles of Recent Stressful Events and Rumination

Friday, November 17
12:00 PM - 1:30 PM
Location: Sapphire Ballroom K & L, Level 4, Sapphire Level

Keywords: ADHD - Adult | Suicide | Rumination
Presentation Type: Symposium

Although recent findings reveal that ADHD symptoms are significantly associated with suicidal ideation (SI), the variables that explain this association remain unknown. Compared to individuals without ADHD, individuals with ADHD may be at risk for SI because they are more likely to experience stressful life events, a well-established risk factor for SI, and are more likely to experience heightened psychological responses to stress. For example, preliminary findings indicate cognitive style and elevated distress in response to stressful situations may play a role in conferring risk for suicidal behaviors among individuals with ADHD. In the present study, we examined a conceptual model wherein the relationship between ADHD and SI is accounted for by stressful events, and the effect of stressful events on SI is stronger when individuals respond to stressful events by ruminating [i.e., stress reactive rumination (SRR)]. 

Our sample consisted of 449 emerging adults, who were predominantly female (73.1%) and Hispanic (70.6%), with a mean age of 20.40 years. Demographic and clinical (ADHD symptoms, depressive symptoms, recent stressful events, SRR) information was collected via rating scales. Consistent with past findings, participants who met symptom criteria for ADHD (N=112, 24.9%) reported significantly higher levels of stressful events, SRR, and SI compared to participants who did not meet criteria.

A statistically significant indirect effect was found, such that the relationship between ADHD and SI was accounted for by stressful events. This indirect effect remained significant after controlling for age, race, ethnicity, gender, and depressive symptoms (R2=.34, p<.001). Further, SRR significantly moderated the indirect effect, such that the impact of stress on SI was stronger at higher levels of stress reactive rumination.

These exciting findings shed light on one explanation of the elevated risk of SI seen in emerging adults with ADHD: heightened levels of stressful events and a tendency to respond to stress by ruminating. Implications for theory development and prevention efforts will be discussed.

Carlos E. Yeguez

Doctoral Student
Florida International University

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