Sport participation during adolescence and suicide ideation and attempts

Lindsay A. Taliaferro, Marla E. Eisenberg, Karen E. Johnson, Toben F. Nelson, Dianne Neumark-Sztainer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Background: Most research regarding sport participation and suicide risk found protective relationships. However, all studies in this area were based on cross-sectional designs. Objective: To fill a gap in research by exploring associations between sport involvement and suicide ideation and attempts (suicidality) based on a 5-year longitudinal, population-based study. Study group: Participants (n = 739) completed surveys in middle school and high school. Methods: Logistic regression analysis compared suicidality during high school across four groups: youth who participated in sport in both middle and high school, youth who participated only in middle school or only in high school, and youth who did not participate in sport during adolescence. Results: Compared to non-participants, youth involved in sport in both middle and high school had lower odds of suicidal ideation during high school. Youth who discontinued sport after middle school had higher odds of attempting suicide during high school than non-participants. Conclusions: Remaining involved in sport throughout adolescence can offer mental health benefits. Future research should identify mechanisms that account for protective relationships between involvement in sport throughout adolescence and suicidality, and identify factors that explain deleterious relationships for youth who discontinue sport early in adolescence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-10
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2011


  • Adolescent
  • Health
  • Physical activity
  • Suicide

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