Associations between the timing of childhood adversity and adulthood suicidal behavior: A nationally-representative cohort

Hyoung Yoon Chang, Yeonseung Chung, Katherine M. Keyes, Sun Jae Jung, Seung Sup Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Although childhood adversities (CAs) are known to be associated with later suicidal behavior, it is uncertain whether the timing of specific CAs may influence this association. Methods: We analyzed nationally representative data for 9205 participants from the Korean Welfare Panel Study. Four different CAs (parental death, parental divorce, suspension of school education and being raised in a relative's house due to financial strain) were assessed and were categorized as early childhood and adolescent onset. Lifetime experiences of suicidal behaviors along with the age of the first time experience were recorded. Cox regression was used. Results: After adjusting for age, sex, and childhood socioeconomic status, parental death before the age of 12 was associated with adulthood suicidal behavior (ideation HR 1.35, 95% CI 1.13, 1.61; attempt HR 1.60, 95% CI 1.02, 2.52), while suspension of school due to financial strain was associated with suicidal behavior when it occurred at adolescence (ideation HR 1.48, 95% CI 1.22, 1.79; plan HR 1.69, 95% CI 1.16, 2.48). When we also adjusted for adulthood SES, which is a potential mediator, there was no significant change except that the association between early parental death and suicidal attempt became non-significant (HR: 1.43, 95% CI: 0.92, 2.26). Limitations: Experience of CA was assessed retrospectively, and the assessment of suicidal attempt was not specifically defined. There could be selection bias due to loss to the follow-up. Conclusions: There may be a critical period for the effect of CA on later suicidal behavior depending on the characteristics of CA.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)198-202
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Aug 11


  • Attempted suicide
  • Childhood adversity
  • Epidemiology
  • Republic of Korea
  • Suicidal ideation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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