Childhood trauma, stressful life events, and suicidality in Danish psychiatric outpatients

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Background: Increasing evidence points to an association between adverse life experiences and suicide risk, which include childhood trauma and maltreatment as well as recent stressful life events. Accordingly, the assessment of childhood trauma and recent stressful life events might contribute to the detection of suicidal risk in a clinical setting.
Aim: To investigate the association of childhood trauma and current stressful life events with suicidal behavior and improve identification of suicidality in psychiatric outpatients.
Method: The Childhood Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ), the Stressful Life Events (SLE) questionnaire, and the Suicide Behaviors Questionnaire-Revised (SBQ-R) were administered to 103 psychiatric outpatients (77% women). We employed binary logistic regression analysis to estimate the statistical risk of suicide attempt for patients being exposed to childhood trauma and the influence of recent stresssful life events. A ROC-analysis was used to estimate the ability of CTQ to predict suicidal behavior.
Results: A substantial association between suicidal behavior and severe childhood trauma was found (OR = 3.68), whereas no significant association was found for recent stressful life events. The result was tested against possible confounding demographic factors (sex, age, job status, educational level and marital status). Childhood trauma was found to explain around 15% of the total variance in suicidality.
Conclusion: The findings partially supported our hypothesis that childhood traumas (but not recent stressful life events) may play a substantial role in suicidality, and therefore assessment of childhood trauma may contribute to the detection of suicidal behavior in a psychiatric outpatient population. However, longitudinal research and replication in other populations are warranted for more conclusive findings.
Original languageEnglish
JournalNordic Journal of Psychiatry
Volume74
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)280-286
ISSN0803-9488
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020

    Research areas

  • Faculty of Social Sciences - Psychological trauma, childhood adversities, suicide attempt, suicide, Childhood Trauma Questionnaire, stressful life event

ID: 240313898