Well-being and suicidal ideation of secondary school students from military families. Academic Article uri icon


  • BACKGROUND: The mental health of children is a primary public health concern; adolescents of military personnel may be at increased risk of experiencing poorer well-being overall and depressive symptoms specifically. These adolescents experience individual and intrafamilial stressors of parental deployment and reintegration, which are directly and indirectly associated with internalizing behaviors. PURPOSE: The present study sought to better understand the influence of parental military connectedness and parental deployment on adolescent mental health. METHODS: Data from the 2011 California Healthy Kids Survey examined feeling sad or hopeless, suicidal ideation, well-being, and depressive symptoms by military connectedness in a subsample (n = 14,299) of seventh-, ninth-, and 11th-grade California adolescents. Cross-classification tables and multiple logistic regression analyses were used. RESULTS: More than 13% of the sample had a parent or sibling in the military. Those with military connections were more likely to report depressive symptoms and suicidal ideation. Controlling for grade, gender, and race/ethnicity, reporting any familial deployment compared with no deployments was associated with increasing odds of experiencing sadness or hopelessness, depressive symptoms, and suicidal ideation. CONCLUSIONS: Findings emphasize the increased risk of mental health issues among youth with parents (and siblings) in the military. Although deployment-related mental health stressors are less likely during peace, during times of war there is a need for increased screening in primary care and school settings. Systematic referral systems and collaboration with community-based mental health centers will bolster screening and services.

published proceedings

  • J Adolesc Health

altmetric score

  • 110.7

author list (cited authors)

  • Cederbaum, J. A., Gilreath, T. D., Benbenishty, R., Astor, R. A., Pineda, D., DePedro, K. T., Esqueda, M. C., & Atuel, H.

citation count

  • 89

complete list of authors

  • Cederbaum, Julie A||Gilreath, Tamika D||Benbenishty, Rami||Astor, Ron A||Pineda, Diana||DePedro, Kris T||Esqueda, Monica C||Atuel, Hazel

publication date

  • January 2014