Suicidal Ideation and Depression among Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Patients

Scott A. Giberson, Brittany C. Hall, Bryan Jester, Victoria M. Short, Kimberly D Roaten, Nancy De La Garza, Madhukar H. Trivedi, Laura Howe-Martin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Purpose: Adolescent and young adult (AYA) cancer patients (aged 18-39 years) represent a unique population within oncology. The developmental and mental health challenges that can co-occur with a diagnosis of cancer during this age range make AYAs a high-risk group for mental health problems, including depression and suicidal ideation. Therefore, the objective of this study was to assess the differences in rates of suicidal ideation and depression between AYAs and older adults (OAs; aged 40+ years) within an outpatient cancer support clinic. Methods: Depression screening data from routine clinical care were gathered and analyzed for adult patients receiving support services at an outpatient academic cancer clinic. The general mental health screening protocol included the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ)-9, which was used as a measure of depression symptoms, including suicidal ideation. Results: Five hundred cancer survivors were included in the initial data analysis, with 21 (40.38%) of the AYAs and 143 (31.92%) of the OAs scoring ≥5 on the PHQ-9. Statistical analysis of groups at this cutoff score reflected no significant difference in depression between AYA and OA groups. However, a chi-square analysis revealed significantly higher suicidal ideation endorsement by AYAs versus OAs in this sample (χ2 [1, N = 500] = 3.98, p = 0.046). Conclusion: Results from routinely collected clinical data reveal a higher rate of suicidal ideation in AYAs compared with OA cancer patients, which supports the need for additional research on AYA cancer patient suicidal ideation in different settings and the implementation of mental health programs specifically for AYA patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)549-554
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2021


  • adolescence
  • depression
  • psychology
  • suicidal ideation
  • suicide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Oncology


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