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Is childhood trauma associated with lifetime suicide attempts in women with bulimia nervosa?

PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to explore the association between specific forms of childhood abuse and neglect with lifetime suicide attempts in women with bulimia nervosa (BN).

METHODS: Two hundred and four women aged 18-65 (mean 25.6 years, SD 9.13) with full or subclinical BN were recruited in five US Midwestern communities and specialized eating disorder clinics. Participants completed questionnaires including the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ) and self-reported whether they had ever had a lifetime suicide attempt. Logistic regression analyses were used to predict lifetime suicide attempts from each subscale of the CTQ.

RESULTS: Childhood emotional, physical, and sexual abuse were significantly associated with the presence of a lifetime suicide attempt in women with BN. Childhood emotional and physical neglect were not associated with suicide attempts.

CONCLUSIONS: Individuals with BN who have experienced childhood emotional and sexual abuse are at increased risk of a lifetime suicide attempt. Future research is needed to understand the mechanism to address in treatment and prevention efforts. It is important for clinicians to be aware of the potential increased risk of suicide in individuals with BN with a history of childhood abuse.

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