Background: Two of the most common modifiable barriers to help-seeking for mental health problems during adolescence are stigma and poor mental health literacy. However, relatively little is known about stigma as it relates to suicide, and knowledge about suicidality in this age group.
Aims: To assess levels of suicide literacy and suicide attitudes in an adolescent sample, and to identify correlates of these constructs.
Methods: Data were drawn from the pre-intervention survey of the Sources of Strength Australia Project. A total of 1019 adolescents aged between 11 and 17 years participated. Suicide literacy and attitudes were measured alongside potential correlates including psychological distress, suicidal ideation, mastery, previous exposure to suicidal thinking and behaviour, and demographics.
Results: Participants more strongly endorsed attitudes attributing suicide to isolation/depression, compared to attitudes glorifying or stigmatising suicide. Gaps in knowledge about suicide included the risk factors, signs and symptoms. Key correlates of suicide attitudes and literacy included age, gender and cultural background.
Conclusion: Findings highlight the need for further education activities in schools and public awareness campaigns that address the gaps in suicide knowledge and attitudes. Such activities would assist in the identification of suicide risk among young people and improve help-seeking in this population.