Childhood adversity, such as child abuse, family alcohol, drug abuse, poverty, and exposure to violence, can have negative impacts on health and well being. However, the risk of suicide associated with childhood adversity is not well established. This study aims to assess the relationship between childhood adversity and the risk of suicide.

This cohort study included a total of 548,721 individuals. Exposure to childhood adversity, including death in the family, parental psychiatric disorder, parental substance abuse, parental separation, substantial parental criminality, residential instability, and receipt of public assistance at ages 0-14 years was reported. The primary outcomes of the study were the estimates of suicide risk at ages 15-24 years.

The adjusted incidence rate ratios for the association between childhood adversity and suicide during adolescent or young adulthood was the lowest for residential stability (1.6) and the highest for suicide in the family (2.9). A dose-response relation between childhood adversity and suicide risk was also discovered. Children exposed to one adversity had an incidence rate ratio of 1.1, which increased to 1.9 for two adversities and 2.6 for three adversities.

The research concluded that childhood adversity was associated with the risk of suicide during adolescence and young adulthood, with the risk increasing with the number of incident adverse events.

Ref: bmj.com/content/357/bmj.j1334