Children and adolescents with developmental disorders exhibit a wide range of self-destructive behaviors. Interestingly, suicidal ideation and gestures have been underreported in this population. This study was designed to examine suicidality in a clinically referred sample. The medical records of all individuals assessed in a specialized program during a 1-year period were reviewed looking at the incidence, the type and the clinical characteristics of any suicidal behavior. Forty-seven patients (20%) experienced either suicidal ideation, threats, or attempts with hanging being the most frequent method considered. Suicidality was more often encountered in individuals diagnosed with oppositional defiant disorder, depressive disorders, and post traumatic stress disorder, and less often in the autistic and the severely/profoundly mentally retarded groups. Suicidal behaviors were frequently encountered in children and adolescents with developmental disabilities. Prospective studies should be conducted to examine rigorously the variables associated with suicidality in this population.
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