Franklin James Cook

Research Points to PTSD as a “Predictor of Attempted Suicide”

In Research on March 3, 2009 at 6:53 pm

ORIGINAL ARTICLE — Rick Nauert, Senior News Editor for PsychCentral, reports that “new research suggests development of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may be associated with subsequent attempted suicide in young adults.” According to the abstract of the study, which appears in the current issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry, “posttraumatic stress disorder is an independent predictor of attempted suicide.”

The research involved nearly 1,700 subjects “who had been tracked since entering the first grade in Baltimore public schools” and who were interviewed 15 years later “to assess the occurrence of traumatic experiences, suicide attempts and the development of PTSD.”

Of the participants interviewed, 1,273 (81 percent) had been exposed to a traumatic event and 100 (6 percent, or 8 percent of those exposed to trauma) developed PTSD. Suicide had been attempted by 10 percent of those with PTSD, compared with 2 percent of those who were exposed to trauma but did not develop PTSD and 5 percent of those who had never been exposed to traumatic events.

Further research is needed, the authors write, to learn more about whether “there could be a common pre-existing predisposition to PTSD and suicide attempts that was present before the trauma occurred.” They note, as well, that their findings are in line with “previous research [that] has found that up to 20 percent of suicide attempts in young people are attributable to sexual abuse during childhood.”

“Although we did not focus explicitly on child sexual abuse, our results point to the need to base risk estimates of attempted suicide on data that take into account the psychiatric response to the trauma.”

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