No matter how close knit a teenager's friends circle is, it is the family that plays a role in protecting adolescents from future suicidal behaviour; and not the falsely acclaimed peer support. Family support can bail out teenagers from depression and suicide attempts.
According to a study, high school depression and a previous suicide attempt were significant predictors of thinking about suicide one or two years later.
But individuals who had high levels of depression, or had attempted suicide in high school, were less likely to engage in suicidal thinking if they had strong family support and bonds.
The presence of a current romantic partner also reduced suicidal thoughts.
"Our findings suggest that the protective quality of family support and bonding, or having an intimate partner, are not replaced by peer support and bonding in emerging adulthood. In fact, it appears that older adolescents - 18- and 19-year olds - who maintain strong family ties are less likely to engage in suicidal thinking, regardless of their peer relationships," said James Mazza, a University of Washington professor of educational psychology.
Bonding, according to the researchers, means a person's closeness with his or her family, or a partner, enjoying spending time with them, and the ability to talk with them about important issues.
Mazza said: "Peers don't provide the same type of safety net that comes from a family or by having an intimate partner. When it comes to suicidal behavior, young adults may feel that their family or partner may be more accepting and less judgmental than perhaps some of their peers."
The researcher added: "This study suggests getting the family involved in adolescent treatment for depression or past suicidal behavior may be very important. It's also important that parents shouldn't give up on their adolescents because our work indicates they still rely on them in this kind of situation."
The researchers collected the data for the study from a larger National Institute of Drug Abuse 15-year study of youth in a Seattle-area school district that looked at risk factors for marijuana and cigarette use, binge drinking, depression and past suicidal behaviour
The study will be presented at the annual meeting of the American Association of Suicidology.