Childhood adversities and suicidal thoughts and behaviors among first-year college students: results from the WMH-ICS initiative: results from the WMH-ICS initiative

Philippe Mortier, Jordi Alonso, Randy P Auerbach, Jason Bantjes, Corina Benjet, Ronny Bruffaerts, Pim Cuijpers, David D Ebert, Jennifer Greif Green, Penelope Hasking, Eirini Karyotaki, Glenn Kiekens, Arthur Mak, Siobhan O'Neill, Matthew K Nock, Stephanie Pinder-Amaker, Nancy A Sampson, Dan J Stein, Gemma Vilagut, Chelsey WilksAlan M Zaslavsky, Patrick Mair, Ronald C Kessler, WHO WMH-ICS Collaborators

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

PURPOSE: To investigate the associations of childhood adversities (CAs) with lifetime onset and transitions across suicidal thoughts and behaviors (STB) among incoming college students.

METHODS: Web-based self-report surveys administered to 20,842 incoming college students from nine countries (response rate 45.6%) assessed lifetime suicidal ideation, plans and attempts along with seven CAs: parental psychopathology, three types of abuse (emotional, physical, sexual), neglect, bully victimization, and dating violence. Logistic regression estimated individual- and population-level associations using CA operationalizations for type, number, severity, and frequency.

RESULTS: Associations of CAs with lifetime ideation and the transition from ideation to plan were best explained by the exact number of CA types (OR range 1.32-52.30 for exactly two to seven CAs). Associations of CAs with a transition to attempts were best explained by the frequency of specific CA types (scaled 0-4). Attempts among ideators with a plan were significantly associated with all seven CAs (OR range 1.16-1.59) and associations remained significant in adjusted analyses with the frequency of sexual abuse (OR = 1.42), dating violence (OR = 1.29), physical abuse (OR = 1.17) and bully victimization (OR = 1.17). Attempts among ideators without plan were significantly associated with frequency of emotional abuse (OR = 1.29) and bully victimization (OR = 1.36), in both unadjusted and adjusted analyses. Population attributable risk simulations found 63% of ideation and 30-47% of STB transitions associated with CAs.

CONCLUSION: Early-life adversities represent a potentially important driver in explaining lifetime STB among incoming college students. Comprehensive intervention strategies that prevent or reduce the negative effects of CAs may reduce subsequent onset of STB.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSocial Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology
Early online date23 Aug 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 23 Aug 2021

Keywords

  • College students
  • Multivariate models
  • Suicide attempt
  • Childhood adversity
  • Population-attributable risk
  • Suicidal ideation

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