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Traumatic events and suicidal behaviour in the Nigerian Survey of Mental Health and Well-Being


Bibilola Oladeji, Department of Psychiatry, University College Hospital, PMB 5116, Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria.


Uwakwe R, Oladeji BD, Gureje O. Traumatic events and suicidal behaviour in the Nigerian Survey of Mental Health and Well-Being.

Objective:  Not much is known about the role of different traumatic events in predicting suicidal outcomes. We investigated the association of specific traumatic events with different suicidal outcomes.

Method:  Data are from the Nigerian Survey of Mental Health and Well-Being, a multistage probability household survey of persons aged 18 years and over. Information on traumatic events and suicidal behaviours (ideation, plan and attempts) was collected in face-to-face interviews using the Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI.3) from a subsample of the respondents (N = 2143).

Results:  At least one traumatic event was reported by 63% of the sample. Traumatic events were more likely to have been experienced by individuals with different suicidal outcomes, with a dose–response relationship between the number of traumatic events and suicide ideation. The risks of suicidal ideation were elevated among persons with a history of combat experience (OR 6.3 95% CI 1.8–21.8) and those with exposure to war (OR 4.2; 95% CI 1.6–10.6), while that of suicidal attempt was increased among persons with experience of interpersonal violence (OR 4.3; 95% CI 1.4–13.0).

Conclusion:  Traumatic events are common in the general population. This report highlights the role of traumatic events (especially those related to violence) in predicting suicidal behaviour.