The new issue of *Archives of General Psychiatry* (Vol. 66 No. 3, March)
includes an article: “Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Suicide Attempts
in a Community Sample of Urban American Young Adults.”

The authors are Holly C. Wilcox, PhD; Carla L. Storr, ScD; & Naomi
Breslau, PhD.

Here’s the abstract:

Context

Previous research has shown that exposure to traumatic events,
especially sexual trauma during childhood, is associated with an
increased risk of attempted suicide. However, no information is
available as to whether the increased risk of attempted suicide is
related primarily to posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following
traumatic experiences or applies also to persons who experienced trauma
but did not develop PTSD.

Objective

We examine the association between exposure to traumatic events with and
without resulting PTSD and the risk of a subsequent suicide attempt in a
community sample of urban young adults.

Design

A cohort study followed young adults who had participated in a
randomized trial of all first-grade students entering 19 public schools.

Setting

Baltimore, Maryland, an urban setting.

Participants

A total of 1698 young adults (mean age, 21; 47% male; 71% African
American) who represented 75% of the original cohort of 2311 persons.

Main Outcome Measure

Relative risk of a subsequent suicide attempt associated with PTSD and
with exposure to assaultive and nonassaultive traumas (no PTSD), as
estimated using discrete time survival analysis.

Results

Posttraumatic stress disorder was associated with increased risk of a
subsequent suicide attempt
. The PTSD-suicide attempt association was
robust, even after adjustment for a prior major depressive episode,
alcohol abuse or dependence, and drug abuse or dependence (adjusted
relative risk, 2.7; 95% confidence interval, 1.3-5.5; P < .01). In
contrast, exposure to traumatic events without PTSD was not associated
with an increased risk of attempted suicide.

Conclusions

Posttraumatic stress disorder is an independent predictor of attempted
suicide. Exposure to traumatic events without PTSD is not associated
with a later suicide attempt.

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