Sexual behavior, depressive feelings, and suicidality among Estonian school children aged 13 to 15 years
Heidmets, L., Samm, A., Sisask, M., Kolves, K., Aasvee, K., & Varnik, A.
Background: The present paper is based on a WHO Collaborative Cross-National Study "Health Behavior in School-Aged Children (HBSC)." Aims: It aimed at describing and analyzing how the sexual behaviors of 13- to 15-year-old Estonian school children were associated with self-reported depressive feelings and suicidality. Distinctive behavioral traits in relation to age of first sexual intercourse were also investigated. Methods: Self-reported questionnaires from school children (n = 3,055) were analyzed. Results: In total, 15.2% of school children reported being nonvirgin. Among 13-year-olds, 2.9% of girls and 6.8% of boys were nonvirgins. Approximately 25% of the 15-year-old girls and boys were nonvirgins. The likelihood of depressive feelings and suicidal ideation increased significantly in both genders with loss of virginity. Boys who had lost their virginity at 13 years or younger were 4.2 times more likely to have suicidal thoughts; comparable girls were 7.8 times more likely to have suicidal thoughts. Compared to virgins, youths who had lost their virginity reported poor self-assessed health and more risk behaviors in themselves and their peers. Conclusion: Experiences of sexual intercourse increased the odds ratios for depressive feelings and suicidality. The earlier sexual intercourse was initiated, the greater were the odds of lower mental well-being. Risk behaviors emerged as a complex phenomenon requiring complex prevention.