J Korean Med Sci.  2021 Mar;36(11):e73. 10.3346/jkms.2021.36.e73.

Association between Early Spermarche and Suicide Attempts in Boys: the Korea Youth Risk Behavior Web-based Survey

  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Gyeongsang National University Changwon Hospital, Changwon, Korea
  • 2Department of Psychiatry, Gyeongsang National University, College of Medicine, Jinju, Korea
  • 3Department of Psychiatry, Gyeongsang National University, College of Medicine, Jinju, Korea


Puberty is a biologically and psychologically unstable period, and pubertal changes differ by sex. However, most previous studies on pubertal timing and suicide have focused on girls. This study investigated the association between early spermarche and suicide attempts in boys.
We analyzed a nationally representative sample of Korean adolescents (The Korea Youth Risk Behavior Web-Based Survey, KYRBS) that included approximately 35,000 boys annually from 2011 to 2015. Pubertal timing in boys was defined by spermarche. Complex sampling logistic regression analyses were performed to evaluate the odds ratios (ORs) for suicide attempts between the early and average spermarche groups.
The ORs for suicide attempts in boys with early spermarche were significantly higher than those in boys with average spermarche after adjustment for age, perceived stress, depressive symptoms, and suicidal ideation. The ORs from 2011 to 2015 were as follows: 1.782 (P < 0.001), 1.490 (P = 0.002), 1.693 (P < 0.001), 1.541 (P = 0.001), and 1.393 (1.024– 1.895; P = 0.035), respectively.
These findings suggest that early pubertal timing is a risk factor for suicide attempts in Korean boys after adjustment for depressive symptoms, perceived stress, and suicidal ideation, which have been previously reported as risk factors for suicide attempts. Therefore, careful attention should be paid to the prevention of suicide in boys who experience early spermarche in Korea.


Early Spermarche; Suicide Attempts; Boys
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