Abstract for: A System Dynamics Model of Child Maltreatment and Adolescent Suicide Risk

Background: The prevalence of adolescent suicidal thoughts and behaviors (STBs) has been on the rise for the past decade in the United States (CDC, 2023), and youth exposed to child abuse and neglect (CAN) have an even higher risk (Angelakis et al., 2020). Despite the known risk for STBs among youth with CAN exposure, there are no suicide prevention approaches for this population. Problem Statement: Culturally-responsive school-based prevention approaches are needed to increase social-emotional protective factors and decrease STBs in CAN-exposed adolescents. We seek to develop a system dynamics model to answer the following two school system problems: (1) What causes CAN-exposed youth to gain social and emotional protective factors for STBs? (2) What causes a school system’s reduction in levels of STBs among its CAN-exposed youth over time? Method: Prior to the current study, the primary author conducted a systematic literature review on developmental mechanisms linking CAN and adolescent suicide. Participatory group model building will be performed with school leaders, teachers, and interventionists in a racially and ethnically diverse urban area in the U.S. Preliminary results: We developed a core conceptual model of social-emotional development and changes in STBS among CAN-exposed youth in a school setting.