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BACKGROUND: Whilst growing research suggests that pain is associated with suicidality in adolescence, it remains unclear whether this relationship is moderated by co-morbid depressive symptoms. The present study aimed to investigate whether the pain-suicidality association is moderated by depressive symptoms. METHODS: We performed secondary analyses on cross-sectional, pre-intervention data from the 'My Resilience in Adolescence' [MYRIAD] trial (ISRCTN ref: 86619085; N=8072, 11-15 years). Using odds ratio tests and (moderated) network analyses, we investigated the relationship between pain and suicidality, after controlling for depression, anxiety, inhibitory control deficits and peer problems. We investigated whether depression moderates this relationship and explored gender differences. RESULTS: Overall, 20% of adolescents reported suicidality and 22% reported pain, whilst nine percent of adolescents reported both. The experience of pain was associated with a four-fold increased risk of suicidality and vice versa (OR=4.00, 95%-CI=[3.54;4.51]), with no gender differences. This cross-sectional association remained significant after accounting for depression, anxiety, inhibitory control deficits and peer problems (aOR=1.39). Depression did not moderate the pain-suicidality association. LIMITATIONS: The item-based, cross-sectional assessment of pain and suicidality precludes any conclusions about the direction of the effects and which aspects of suicidality and pain may drive this association. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings underscore the need to consider pain as an independent risk correlate of suicidality in adolescents. Longitudinal research should examine how this relationship develops during adolescence. Clinically, our findings emphasise the need to assess and address suicidality in adolescents with pain, even in the absence of depressive symptoms.

Original publication




Journal article


J Affect Disord

Publication Date





667 - 677


Adolescence, Depression, Network analysis, Pain, Self-harm, Suicidality, Adolescent, Anxiety, Cross-Sectional Studies, Depression, Humans, Pain, Suicide