Purpose: This population-based study explored the associations between childhood adversity and admission to emergency departments (EDs) with non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) and with a suicide attempt.
Methods: A nationally representative cross-sectional sample of 5-17-year-olds admitted to EDs (N = 143,113,677) from 2006 to 2015 was utilized to assess the associations between childhood adversities, NSSIs, and suicide attempts.
Results: ED admissions with NSSI and admissions with a suicide attempt were associated with greater odds of exposure to individual childhood adversities (aORs: 1.34 to 5.86; aORs: 2.37 to 15.69, respectively). ED admissions with a suicide attempt were associated with greater odds of exposure to childhood adversities that might be perceived as less extreme or harmful (separation or divorce aOR: 15.69) than other adversities (death of a family member aOR: 13.38; history of physical abuse aOR: 9.56) as well as greater odds of exposure to three or more childhood adversities (aOR: 20.98).
Conclusion: Early detection of childhood adversities is important for identifying potential risk factors for self-harm. ED admission data can provide population-level surveillance to aid in these efforts and lead to more targeted and effective interventions aimed at reducing the negative effects of toxic stress that can result from exposure to childhood adversities.