Risk of Suicide Ideation Up for Recently Victimized Teens

(HealthDay News) – Adolescents exposed to recent victimization have an increased risk for suicide ideation, with a higher risk for those exposed to polyvictimization.

Heather A. Turner, PhD, from the University of New Hampshire in Durham, and colleagues examined the independent and cumulative effects of past-year exposure to several different types of child victimization on suicide ideation using two waves of longitudinal data from the National Survey of Children’s Exposure to Violence in 2008 and 2010. Participants included a national sample of 1,186 10- to 17-year-olds in wave 1. Types of child victimization included peer victimization, sexual assault, witnessing family violence, exposure to community violence, and parental/caregiver maltreatment.

The researchers found that peer victimization, sexual assault, and maltreatment by a parent/caregiver had independent effects on suicidal ideation at wave 2, after controlling for demographic characteristics, internalizing disorder diagnoses, and wave 1 suicide ideation. Compared with unexposed children, the risk of suicide ideation was increased 2.4-fold in those who experienced peer victimization in the past year; 3.4-fold in those who were sexually assaulted; and 4.4-fold in those who were exposed to maltreatment. Exposure to seven or more individual types of victimization in the past year (polyvictimization) had considerable effects, with polyvictims having an almost six-fold higher risk of suicide ideation.

“These findings emphasize the need to include comprehensive victimization assessment in adolescent suicide prevention and intervention efforts, recognizing the particular significance of polyvictimization,” the authors write.

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