Childhood Trauma, Parental Death, and Their Co-occurrence in Relation to Current Suicidality Risk in Adults: A Nationwide Community Sample of Korea

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Although previous studies have suggested that childhood trauma and parental death are strongly associated with suicidality in adulthood, it is still unclear how these factors interact within the same population. A total of 1396 adults were recruited through nationwide multistage probability sampling in South Korea. Subjects were evaluated through face-to-face interviews using the Suicidality Module of the Mini-International Neuropsychiatric Interview and the Early Trauma Inventory Self Report-Short Form. Among the 1396 adults, the group that experienced both childhood trauma and parental death had the highest current suicidality risks (F = 12.16, p < 0.0001) and lifetime suicide attempt (χ2 = 35.81, p < 0.0001) compared with the other groups, which were only childhood trauma, only parental death, and neither. Multivariate logistic regression analyses revealed that middle-to-high current suicidality risk and lifetime suicide attempt were significantly associated with concurrent childhood trauma and parental death (odds ratio, 3.64; 95% confidence interval, 1.99–6.65) as well as with only childhood trauma (odds ratio, 1.95; 95% confidence interval, 1.33–2.87), after adjusting for age, sex, education, marital status, household monthly income, and living area. Emotional abuse was the only type of childhood trauma significantly associated with higher current suicidality scores in those who experienced childhood parental death than in those who did not (F = 3.26, p = 0.041). Current suicidality risk and lifetime suicide attempt are associated with experiencing both parental death and trauma, especially emotional abuse, in childhood, whereas experiencing only childhood parental death is associated with neither.

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