Honors Theses and Capstones

Date of Award

Spring 2017

Project Type

Senior Honors Thesis

College or School



Health Management and Policy

Program or Major

Health Management and Policy

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

First Advisor

Semra Aytur


Purpose: Suicide is the second leading cause of death for New Hampshire (NH) youth. Evidence-based public health emphasizes the use of data for translating research into practice/policy. We utilized data from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) to support community-academic partnerships and inform suicide prevention interventions. Methods: Data from the 2011 NH YRBS, a cross-sectional survey of 9th-12th grade students, were analyzed. Gender-stratified, adjusted odds ratios (aORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were estimated using logistic regression models (SAS 9.4, ProcSuveylogistic) to evaluate associations between suicidal ideation (seriously considering attempting suicide within the past 12 months), violence (e.g., physical bullying, cyber-bullying, forced sexual activity), opioid/prescription drug use, food insecurity, and perceptions of being valued by one’s community.

Results: Overall, the prevalence of suicidal ideation was 14.3% (females 16.8%; males 12.2%). For both genders, higher prevalence of suicidal ideation was observed among students in grades 9 (15.6%) and 10 (17.8%) compared to grades 11 (11.6%) and 12 (11.3%). In adjusted models, among girls, suicidal ideation was positively associated with the use of opioid/prescription drugs (aOR: 1.38; CI: 1.13-1.67)), violence (being forced to have sex (aOR 2.32 (CI 1.12-4.81)); being bullied on school property (aOR 2.28 (CI 1.31-3.97)), and food insecurity ((aOR 1.36 (CI 1.02-1.81)). Among boys, suicidal ideation was positively associated with opioid/drug use (aOR 1.25 (CI 1.04-1.49)), cyberbullying (aOR 2.69(CI 1.17-6.18)), and food insecurity ((aOR 1.44 (CI 1.14-1.83). Youth who perceived that they did not matter to their community were more likely to report suicidal ideation (Girls: aOR: 1.62; CI: 1.27-2.08; Boys: aOR: 1.37; (CI: 1.10-1.71)), compared to those who felt that they mattered to their community.

Conclusions: Drug use, violence, and food insecurity emerged as significant risk factors for suicidal ideation among NH youth. Interventions that make youth feel that they matter to their communities may protect against suicidal ideation.