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BackgroundLittle is known about the association between trauma exposure and suicidal ideation across racial/ethnic groups. Our study aim was to determine the association between trauma exposure and suicidal ideation in a nationally representative ethnically diverse sample of adults.MethodsThis study included 14,866 White, Hispanic, Black, and Asian participants 18 years and older involved in the Collaborate Psychiatric Epidemiology Surveys (2001–2003), comprised of three nationally representative studies (NCS-R, NSAL, and NLAAS). Lifetime history of suicidal ideation as assessed in the World Health Organization's World Mental Health Survey Initiative version of the Composite International Diagnostic Interview (WMH-CIDI).ResultsOf the 81% respondents who reported being exposed to trauma as assessed in the WMH-CIDI, 12.1% endorsed lifetime suicidal ideation. Additionally, of the 19% who did not report trauma, 1.1% endorsed lifetime suicidal ideation. Fully adjusted, multivariable logistic regression models revealed two traumas consistently associated with significantly higher odds for suicidal ideation across all four racial groups examined: Assaultive/interpersonal violence and child maltreatment. Asians, in particular, had the highest likelihood for suicidal ideation in both trauma categories, with a near threefold increased odds for assaultive/interpersonal violence exposure (OR: 2.56; 95% CI: 1.71–3.83) and nearly ninefold increased odds for child maltreatment exposure (OR: 8.43; 95% CI: 4.91–14.49).Discussion: Suicidal ideation in racially/ethnically diverse American adults is strongly associated with assaultive/interpersonal violence and child maltreatment, independent of PTSD, MDD, and substance use. These findings highlight the need for monitoring of suicidal behavior following assaultive/interpersonal trauma and child maltreatment, regardless of the presence of a psychiatric disorder.

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