Year: 2023 Source: Crisis. (2019). 40(4), 240–248. SIEC No: 20231493
Background: Youth experiencing homelessness are at risk for sex trafficking and mental health concerns. Aims: More information is needed to elucidate the prevalence and characteristics of suicidal ideation and behavior among youth experiencing sex trafficking. Method: The present study examined suicidal ideation and behavior in a convenience sample of 128 youths experiencing homelessness aged 12-25 years in metropolitan Louisville, Kentucky, and southern Indiana. Participants were asked seven questions regarding suicidal ideation and attempts as part of an enhanced version of the 60-item Youth Experiences Survey (YES). Results: Approximately 53% of the sample reported experiencing suicidal ideation at some point in their lifetime and the odds of a youth experiencing homelessness who had experienced sex trafficking reporting suicidal ideation was 3.87 times higher than the odds of a youth experiencing homelessness who had not experienced sex trafficking. Additionally, of those who reported experiencing suicidal ideation, the majority (84.4%) reported they had attempted suicide in their lifetime. Limitations: This study relied on a convenience sample of youth receiving services in the Kentuckiana region and brief, self-report measures yielding categorical data. Conclusion: Programs servicing youth experiencing homelessness should require additional training and resources regarding the identification, screening, and assessment of youth who are at risk of or who have experienced sex trafficking in order to more quickly connect youth with much-needed, trauma-informed services.