The researchers interviewed over 10,000 people from 80 American schools and 52 middle schools in grades 7 through 12 were interviewed and followed up again when they were between 18 and 26 years of age. The participants were asked a number of questions including on relationships, depression and thoughts of suicide.
Around 29 percent admitted to experiencing a 'casual sexual relationship' where they met up with an opposite sex only for sex and not dating. The researchers found that teens who were the most depressed were more likely to go into a casual sexual relationship and have increased thoughts of suicide as young adults. The study has been published in the Journal of Sex Research
"Several studies have found a link between poor mental health and casual sex, but the nature of that association has been unclear. There's always been a question about which one is the cause and which is the effect. This study provides evidence that poor mental health can lead to casual sex, but also that casual sex leads to additional declines in mental health", lead researcher Dr Sara Sandberg-Thoma said.