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Psychopathological mechanisms of early neglect and abuse on suicidal ideation and self-harm in middle childhood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Early online date19 Feb 2019
DOIs
DateAccepted/In press - 4 Feb 2019
DateE-pub ahead of print (current) - 19 Feb 2019

Abstract

Informed by diathesis-stress models of suicide risk, this longitudinal study examines the psychopathological mechanisms through which early maltreatment increases the risk for suicidal ideation and self-harm in middle childhood. The sample included 2958 families from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, who participated in interviews at child’s ages of 3 and/or 5, and 9. Via the Child Behavior Checklist, primary caregivers reported on the child’s suicidal ideation and self-harm at age 9 and on clinically elevated depressive/anxious symptoms, aggressive behaviors, attention problems, and comorbid aggression and depressive/anxious symptoms at age 5. Past year neglect and physical/psychological abuse were measured via the Parent–Child Conflict Tactics Scale at age 3. Multivariate structural equation models indicated that early neglect had a significant indirect effect on suicidal ideation via clinically elevated depressive/anxious symptoms (OR = 1.57, 95% CI 1.09–2.25) and comorbid symptomatology (OR = 1.28, 95% CI 1.02–1.62), and on self-harm also via clinically elevated depressive/anxious symptoms (OR = 1.39, 95% CI 1.04–1.84) and comorbid symptomatology (OR = 1.20, 95% CI 1.01–1.43). Early physical/psychological abuse had a significant indirect effect on self-harm via clinically elevated attention problems (OR = 1.09, 95% CI 1.01–1.21). Unique developmental pathways for suicidal ideation and self-harm emerged among children exposed to abuse or neglect. For those exposed to early neglect, interventions should target depressive/anxious symptoms, especially when comorbid with aggression, to prevent suicidal ideation and self-harm. For children exposed to early physical/psychological abuse, problems with attention and impulsivity may be targets for reducing the risk for self-harm.

    Research areas

  • Child abuse, Child neglect, Self-injurious behavior, Suicidal ideation, Longitudinal studies

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  • Full-text PDF (accepted author manuscript)

    Rights statement: This is the author accepted manuscript (AAM). The final published version (version of record) is available online via Springer Nature at https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00787-019-01287-8. Please refer to any applicable terms of use of the publisher.

    Accepted author manuscript, 275 KB, PDF document

    Embargo ends: 19/02/20

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