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Maltreatment during childhood ups risk of suicide attempts during adolescence

16 May 2018
Children subjected to corporal punishment are at higher risk of depression, alcohol and drug abuse and psychological maladjustment.

Maltreatment during childhood increases the likelihood of single or multiple attempts of suicide during late adolescence, a recent China study has shown. Moreover, sleep disturbances appear to have a moderating role in this phenomenon.

Each point increase in the physical abuse (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 1.12; 95 percent CI, 1.10–1.14), emotional abuse (aOR, 1.08; 1.07–1.09), sexual abuse (aOR, 1.08; 1.06–1.11), physical neglect (aOR, 1.08; 1.07–1.10) and emotional neglect (aOR, 1.09; 1.07–1.10; p<0.001 for all) subscales of the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire was significantly associated with a higher likelihood of a single suicide attempt.

A similar effect was observed for multiple suicide attempts: physical abuse (aOR, 1.23; 1.19–1.26), emotional abuse (aOR, 1.12; 1.10–1.14), sexual abuse (aOR, 1.22; 1.20–1.25), physical neglect (aOR, 1.17; 1.14–1.20) and emotional neglect (aOR, 1.11; 1.08–1.13; p<0.001 for all).

Sleep disturbance was likewise associated with both a single (aOR, 2.74; 2.47–3.04) and multiple (aOR, 2.98; 2.45–3.61; p<0.001 for both) suicide attempts. Sleep disturbance was also found to be a significant interactor in the relationships between a single suicide attempt and each type of childhood maltreatment.

“Based on the findings of our study, childhood maltreatment and suicide attempts among adolescents should be a matter of concern for public health authorities in China, and the establishment of a proper active surveillance system to supervise these risk behaviors for adolescents is recommended,” said researchers.

For the study, researchers analysed 75,715 questionnaire responses of adolescents who were at least 16 years of age. In this sample, majority had had no suicide attempts (n=73,359; mean age 16.6±1.2 years), 1,790 had attempted suicide once (mean age 16.4±1.1 years) and 566 had attempted twice (mean age 16.5±1.4 years).

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