Homeless teens face higher risk of self-harm, suicide: 5 findings

Teens who were homeless in the last year were two times as likely to report emotional distress, self-harm and suicidal thoughts and three times as likely to attempt suicide than their nonhomeless peers, according to a study published in Pediatrics.

The study authors analyzed data from more than 62,000 teens, ranging from eighth-graders to 12th-graders, to determine how family homelessness in the last year affected the their rates of emotional distress, self-injury, suicidal thoughts and attempted suicide.

"Youth who are homeless with adult family members comprise 37 percent of the US homeless population, yet mental health among this group has not yet been well described," the study authors wrote.

Here are five findings from the study.

1. Four percent of youth were homeless with an adult family member.

2. Among these homeless youth, approximately 29 percent reported self-injury.

3. Twenty-one percent of these teens reported suicidal thoughts. 

4. Roughly 9 percent of these teens reported suicide attempts. 

5. "Youth experiencing recent family homelessness are at higher risk of suicidality than their nonhomeless peers, suggesting homelessness itself as a marker of risk," the study authors concluded. "Interventions among homeless youth may need to address social determinants of health such as stable housing and adversity in addition to developmental assets."

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