Types and Number of Traumas Associated With Suicidal Ideation and Suicide Attempts in PTSD: Findings From a U.S. Nationally Representative Sample

Daniel M LeBouthillier, Katherine A McMillan, Michel A Thibodeau, Gordon J G Asmundson
Journal of Traumatic Stress 2015, 28 (3): 183-90
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is associated with suicidal ideation and suicide attempt; however, research has largely focused on specific samples and a limited range of traumas. We examined suicidal ideation and suicide attempt relating to 27 traumas within a nationally representative U.S. sample of individuals with PTSD. Data were from the National Epidemiologic Survey of Alcohol and Related Conditions (N = 34,653). Participants were assessed for lifetime PTSD and trauma history, suicidal ideation, and suicide attempt. We calculated the proportion of individuals reporting suicidal ideation or suicide attempt for each trauma and for the number of unique traumas experienced. Most traumas were associated with greater suicidal ideation and suicide attempt in individuals with PTSD compared to individuals with no lifetime trauma or with lifetime trauma but no PTSD. Childhood maltreatment, assaultive violence, and peacekeeping traumas had the highest rates of suicidal ideation (49.1% to 51.9%) and suicide attempt (22.8% to 36.9%). There was substantial variation in rates of suicidal ideation and suicide attempt for war and terrorism-related traumas. Multiple traumas increased suicidality, such that each additional trauma was associated with an increase of 20.1% in rate of suicidal ideation and 38.9% in rate of suicide attempts. Rates of suicidal ideation and suicide attempts varied markedly by trauma type and number of traumas, and these factors may be important in assessing and managing suicidality in individuals with PTSD.

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