Examining physical and sexual abuse histories as correlates of suicide risk among firefighters.
Hom, M.A., Matheny, N.L., Stanley, I.H., Rogers, M.L., Cougle, J.R. & Joiner, T.E.
Research indicates that physical and sexual abuse are associated with increased suicide risk; however, these associations have not been investigated among firefighters—an occupational group that has been shown to be at elevated suicide risk. This study examined whether physical and sexual abuse histories are associated with (a) career suicide ideation, plans, and attempts; and (b) current suicide risk (controlling for theoretically relevant symptoms) in this occupational group. A sample of 929 U.S. firefighters completed self‐report surveys that assessed lifetime history of physical and sexual abuse; career suicide ideation, plans, and attempts; current suicide risk; and theoretically relevant symptoms. Logistic regression analyses revealed that individuals who reported a history of physical abuse were significantly more likely to report career suicide ideation, adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 6.12, plans, AOR = 13.05, and attempts, AOR= 23.81, than those who did not. A similar pattern of findings emerged for individuals who reported a sexual abuse history, AORs = 7.83, 18.35, and 29.58 respectively. Linear regression analyses revealed that physical and sexual abuse histories each significantly predicted current suicide risk, even after controlling for theoretically relevant symptoms and demographics, pr2 = .07 and .06, respectively. Firefighters with a history of physical and/or sexual abuse may be at increased risk for suicidal thoughts and behaviors. A history of physical and sexual abuse were each significantly correlated with current suicide risk in this population, even after accounting for the effects of theoretically relevant symptoms. Thus, when conceptualizing suicide risk among firefighters, factors not necessarily related to one’s firefighter career should be considered.