Traumatic events and suicide-related outcomes among Mexico City adolescents

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Abstract

Background

We report the prevalence and associations between traumatic events and suicidal ideation, suicide plans and suicide attempts among Mexican adolescents.

Methods

The data are from a representative multistage probability household survey of 3,005 adolescents aged 12 to 17 years residing in the Mexico City Metropolitan Area that was carried out in 2005. We used discrete time survival analyses to model the net impact of retrospectively reported prior occurrence of traumatic events on ideation, plans and attempts, taking into account the onset of psychiatric disorders.

Results

Prevalence of suicidality was high among respondents with traumatic events, ranging from a 43% prevalence of suicidal ideation among those with a history of ‘Being raped’ to a 25% prevalence of suicide attempts among those that reported ‘Purposely injured, tortured or killed someone.’ In cross-sectional estimates, any traumatic event was associated with an increase of 3.2 times the odds of suicide ideation, 5.1 times the odds of a plan and 6.6 times the odds of an attempt. Number of events was also associated with increasing suicidality such that those with three or more events were 13.7 times more likely to report a suicide attempt than those with none. Multivariate discrete time survival models that took into account a large number of demographic, suicide-related and psychiatric disorder variables reduced in strength but did not alter these basic relationships.

Conclusions

We conclude that traumatic events such as rape and sexual assault have a profound impact upon suicidality and that this relationship is not entirely explained by the onset of psychiatric disorders. Comprehensive interventions for adolescent victims of traumatic events, especially those with a history of cumulative events, should include, but not be restricted to, treatment of any associated psychiatric disorder.

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