Suicide Risk Greater Following Post-Traumatic Stress

Young adults more likely to attempt suicide after post-traumatic stress disorder, but not trauma alone

WEDNESDAY, Mar. 4 (HealthDay News) -- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after a traumatic event in childhood can independently predict attempted suicide risk, although trauma alone cannot, according to research presented in the March issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

Holly C. Wilcox, Ph.D., of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, and colleagues evaluated the risk of attempted suicide among 1,698 young adults (mean age 21 years) from an urban setting.

A large proportion (81 percent) of the participants were found to have been exposed to at least one traumatic event in their lifetime; of these, 8 percent developed PTSD. A strong and significant association was found between an individual having PTSD following a traumatic event and their likelihood to have a subsequent suicide attempt (2.7-fold increased risk after adjusting for other factors), the researchers report. Trauma not accompanied by PTSD was not associated with an increased risk of suicide attempt, the authors note.

"Persons exposed to trauma who developed PTSD were at an increased risk of attempted suicide," Wilcox and colleagues conclude. "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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