Canadian Research in Brief

Association of child abuse exposure with suicidal ideation, suicide plans, and suicide attempts in military personnel and the general population in Canada

(2016), JAMA Psychiatry, 73(3), 229-238.

Afifi, T. O.
Taillieu, T.
Zamorski, M. A.
Turner, S.
Cheung, K.
Sareen, J.

This study looked at the suicide related outcomes in Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), including the Afghanistan Reserve Force (ARF) personnel and the Canadian general population (CGP). Data from the 2013 Canadian Forces Mental Health Survey (CFMHS) and the 2012 Canadian Community Health Survey-Mental Health (CCHS-MH) were used to examine the association between suicidal ideation, plans and attempts and child maltreatment (exposure to intimate partner violence, sexual abuse and physical abuse). The two surveys yielded a combined total of 24,142 individuals between the ages of 18 and 60 years old, who reported on their mental health and childhood maltreatment experiences. Findings indicated that the proportion of individuals exposed to child maltreatment was highest among military personnel -  CGP (33%), CAF (48%) and ARF (49%). All forms of childhood maltreatment were related to increased odds of suicidal ideation, plans and attempts for CGP (AOR= 3 to 7.7) and CAF (AOR= 1.7 to 6.3). Respondents who reported a history of maltreatment and experienced deployment trauma had increased odds of suicidal ideation and plans in the past year compared with those who only experienced deployment traumas. Finally, the interaction between childhood exposure to abuse and deployment-related trauma was not significant.