Abstract for: Preventing Suicide Attempts in Adolescence to Young Adulthood using Simulation

The U.S. has invested over $22 million per year to prevent suicide (National Institutes of Health, 2015), however, rates of suicide have not declined (CDC, 2012). This study uses system dynamics to simulate whether the interpersonal theory of suicide (IPTS) (Joiner, 2005) can predict suicide attempts during adolescence and into adulthood. Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent and Adult Health (Add Health), this study suggests that IPTS needs to be modified to predict suicide attempts over adolescent development. A modified model, the Developmental Systems Model of IPTS is constructed, simulated, and tested with better accuracy predicting suicide attempts across adolescence. Experiments are conducted on whether reducing the duration of depression or suppressing capability for suicide is more effective at reducing suicide attempts over time. The study demonstrates the usefulness of system dynamics modeling for testing leverage points that reduce suicide attempts over time. Limitations are discussed and future directions for suicide research on adolescents are outlined.