Multimodal neuroimaging of suicidal thoughts and behaviors in a U.S. population-based sample of school-age children

Pablo Vidal-Ribas, Delfina Janiri, Gaelle E. Doucet, Narun Pornpattananangkul, Dylan M. Nielson, Sophia Frangou, Argyris Stringaris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective: Suicide deaths and suicidal thoughts and behaviors are considered a public health emergency, yet their underpinnings in the brain remain elusive. The authors examined the classification accuracy of individual, environmental, and clinical characteristics, as well as multimodal brain imaging correlates, of suicidal thoughts and behaviors in a U.S. population-based sample of school-age children. Methods: Children ages 9-10 years (N=7,994) from a population-based sample from the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development study were assessed for lifetime suicidal thoughts and behaviors. After quality control procedures, structural MRI (N=6,238), resting-state functional MRI (N=4,134), and task-based functional MRI (range, N=4,075-4,608) were examined. Differences with Welch's t test and equivalence tests, with observed effect sizes (Cohen's d) and their 90% confidence intervals,|0.15|, were examined. Classification accuracy was examined with area under precision-recall curves (AUPRCs). Results: Among the 7,994 unrelated children (females, N53,757, 47.0%), those with lifetime suicidal thoughts and behaviors based on child (N5684, 8.6%), caregiver (N5654, 8.2%), and concordant (N5198, 2.5%) reports had higher levels of social adversity and psychopathology, among themselves and their caregivers, compared with never-suicidal children (N56,854, 85.7%). Only one imaging test survived statistical correction: caregiver-reported suicidal thoughts and behaviors were associated with a thinner left bank of the superior temporal sulcus. On the basis of the prespecified bounds of |0.15|, approximately 48% of the group mean differences for child-reported suicidal thoughts and behaviors comparisons and approximately 22% for caregiver-reported suicidal thoughts and behaviors comparisons were considered equivalent. All observed effect sizes were relatively small (d#|0.30|), and both non-imaging and imaging correlates had low classification accuracy (AUPRC #0.10). Conclusions: Commonly applied neuroimaging measures did not reveal a discrete brain signature related to suicidal thoughts and behaviors in youths. Improved approaches to the neurobiology of suicide are critically needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)321-332
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican Journal of Psychiatry
Volume178
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2021
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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