Chronic conditions may be associated with suicide risk. This study aimed to specify the extent to which youth chronic conditions are at risk for suicidality and self-harm.


Logistic regression was used to estimate odds of self-harm, suicidal ideation, and suicide attempts in 10- to 19-year-olds with and without chronic physical and/or mental health conditions.


Independent of race, socioeconomic status, absent parent, special education status, substance use, and emotional distress, youth with co-occurring chronic physical and mental conditions (n = 4099) had significantly higher odds of self-harm (odds ratio [OR]: 2.5 [99% confidence interval (CI): 2.3–2.8), suicidal ideation (OR: 2.5 [99% CI: 2.3–2.8), and suicide attempts (OR: 3.5 [99% CI: 3.1–3.9]) than healthy peers (n = 106 967), as did those with chronic mental conditions alone (n = 8752). Youth with chronic physical conditions alone (n = 12 554) were at slightly elevated risk for all 3 outcomes. Findings were similar among male and female youth, with a risk gradient by grade.


Chronic physical conditions are associated with a slightly elevated risk for self-harm, suicidal thinking, and attempted suicide; chronic mental conditions are associated with an increased risk for all 3 outcomes. Co-occurring chronic physical and mental conditions are associated with an increased risk for self-harm and suicidal ideation that is similar to the risk in chronic mental conditions and with an attempted suicide risk in excess of that predicted by the chronic mental health conditions alone. Preventive interventions for these youth should be developed and evaluated.

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