Inhalant use and suicidality among incarcerated youth

Stacey Freedenthal, Michael G. Vaughn, Jeffrey M. Jenson, Matthew O. Howard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)


Studies consistently indicate that inhalant use is associated with increased mental health problems in adolescents, but few investigations have focused on the potential relationship of inhalant use to suicidality (ideation or attempt). This study examined how different levels of volatile solvent use relate to suicidal ideation and attempted suicide among 723 incarcerated youth (mean age = 15.5, S.D. = 1.2; 87% male) in Missouri, and whether any associations between solvent use and suicidality differ by gender. In bivariate analyses, severity of inhalant use was positively associated with histories of suicidal ideation and suicide attempt for both boys and girls. In multivariate analyses, inhalant use disorders remained significantly associated with suicidal ideation and suicide attempt histories even after adjusting for general level of psychiatric symptoms, prior trauma, other substance use, gender, and additional potential confounders. Inhalant use without abuse or dependence also significantly related to suicidal ideation in multivariate analyses, but an interaction between gender and inhalant use signified this relationship was stronger for girls. Inhalant use disorders in incarcerated youth, as well as inhalant use without abuse or dependence (particularly in girls), may signal elevated suicide risk. Suicide risk assessments should, therefore, include questions about inhalation of volatile solvents such as paint, gasoline, and household cleaners.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-88
Number of pages8
JournalDrug and Alcohol Dependence
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2007 Sep 6

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by National Institute on Drug Abuse grants DA 15929 and DA 15556; Matthew Howard, Principal Investigator.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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