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Keywords:

  • trauma;
  • life events;
  • suicide risk;
  • inmates

Abstract

Relationships between traumatic life events and suicide risk were studied in two samples of jail inmates with a low (N = 216) and a high (N = 51) suicide risk. Although nonsuicidal inmates reported a high prevalence of traumatic life events, suicidal inmates reported even higher prevalence rates. Suicidal inmates reported more episodes of sexual abuse, physical maltreatment, emotional maltreatment, abandonment, and suicide attempts by significant others. They also had experienced more traumatic life events during childhood, later life, and detention. It is concluded that traumatic life events are associated with suicide risk and that such an association remains in a population with a high prevalence of traumatic life events. It is also concluded that suicide risk is dependent of the type of life event, the timing of the event, and the type of persons involved in the event.