Socioeconomic status and depressive symptoms and suicidality: The role of subjective social status


Madigan, Anna & Daly, Michael (2023). Socioeconomic status and depressive symptoms and suicidality: The role of subjective social status. Journal of Affective Disorders. vol. 326 pp. 36-43


Background Low socioeconomic status (SES) confers access to material resources and social standing and is an established risk factor of both depressive symptoms and suicidality. Subjective social status (SSS) assesses how people perceive their position within the social hierarchy and has been proposed to impact mental health. This study examined the relationship between SES and depressive symptoms and suicidality and tested whether SSS mediated these associations. Methods This study drew on publicly available survey data from the US National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health). Participants were surveyed at baseline in 2008 (N = 4948; aged 28.8 years) and at followed up in 2016–2018 (N = 3509; aged 37.8 years). SES was gauged using personal and household income, assets, education, and job prestige. SSS was assessed using the MacArthur Scale. Depressive symptoms were assessed using four-items from the Centre for Epidemiological Studies Scale of Depression (CESD) and participants reported suicidal ideation and suicide attempts in the past year. Results Both low SES and SSS were associated with elevated levels of depressive symptoms, suicidal ideation, and suicide attempts in cross-sectional and prospective analyses. SSS explained 27 % of the association between SES and depressive symptoms, 51 % of the relationship between SES and suicidal ideation, and 37 % of the link between SES and suicide attempts on average. Conclusions These findings contribute to understanding the long-term effects of SSS and suggest that perceptions of status may be a key mechanism through which low SES forecasts the development of depressive symptoms and suicidality.



Social status

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Journal Article

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Journal of Affective Disorders


Madigan, Anna
Daly, Michael

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