Background: Prisoners have higher rates of suicide attempts compared with general population. A history of childhood trauma (CT) is common among incarcerated subjects and it is a well-known risk factor for lifetime suicide attempts. Therefore, the purpose of the study was to investigate whether lifetime suicide attempts may be related to the exposition to CT among male prisoners.
Method: We conducted a cross sectional study recruiting newly arrived inmates in an Italian jail, between January 2017 and June 2018. Prisoners were interviewed to collect socio-demographic and clinical information. Moreover, inmates completed the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire. We excluded prisoners unable to speak or read Italian, with learning disabilities or current severe psychiatric symptoms.
Results: A total of 215 consecutive male inmates were included. Fifty-one prisoners (23.7%) had a history of attempted suicide. The most reported CT was physical neglect. Multivariate logistic regression analysis showed that a history of childhood sexual abuse, emotional neglect and psychiatric diagnosis significantly increased the likelihood of lifetime suicide attempt.
Conclusions: A previous history of suicide attempt is highly prevalent among inmates. In agreement with previous findings, lifetime suicide attempts seem to be associated with the presence of CT and psychiatric diagnosis. Therefore, CT should be considered as a relevant variable to improve the programs for the prevention of suicide in prison.