Early life trauma and suicide

Aaron T O Short, Charles Nemeroff

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

9 Scopus citations


Abuse, neglect, trauma, and other adversities experienced as a child or young adolescent have repeatedly and conclusively been shown to increase one's risk of developing major psychiatric disorders later in life. A growing body of literature supports the view that child abuse and neglect lead to a multitude of poor health outcomes including increased rates of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, major depression, as well as other major medical disorders including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, asthma, and obesity (Felitti et al. 1998; Heim and Nemeroff 2001). Early life trauma (ELT) is associated with alterations in emotional, behavioral, and cognitive arenas. There is considerable evidence to support ELT as an independent risk factor for suicidal ideation and behaviors in adulthood (Gunter et al. 2013; Friestad et al. 2014; Daigle and Cote 2006; Sarchiapone et al. 2009) whereas traumatic exposure in adulthood does not share a similar magnitude of suicidal risk as compared to childhood trauma. Impulsivity is one risk factor for suicidal behaviors, and is associated with early, prolonged, and severe trauma exposure (Braquehais et al. 2010; Kendall-Tackett 2002; Roy 2005). Indeed, suicides characterized by impulsivity are more likely in those with a history of ELT (Zouk et al. 2006). In this chapter, we review ELT origens, and how these can produce or interact with other risk factors contributing to suicide.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSuicide: Phenomenology and Neurobiology
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages19
ISBN (Print)9783319099644, 3319099639, 9783319099637
StatePublished - Jul 1 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Neuroscience(all)


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