Year: 2022 Source: European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. (2022). Published online 7 October 2022. SIEC No: 20220856

Suicide prevention efforts generally target acute precipitants of suicide, though accumulating evidence suggests that vulnerability to suicide is partly established early in life before acute precipitants can be identified. The aim of this systematic review was to synthesize evidence on early life vulnerability to suicide beginning in the prenatal period and extending through age 12. We searched PubMed, Embase, PsycNet, Web of Science, Scopus, Social Services Abstracts, and Sociological Abstracts for prospective studies published through January 2021 that investigated early life risk factors for suicide mortality. The search yielded 13,237 studies; 54 of these studies met our inclusion criteria. Evidence consistently supported the link between sociodemographic (e.g., young maternal age at birth, low parental education, and higher birth order), obstetric (e.g., low birth weight), parental (e.g., exposure to parental death by external causes), and child developmental factors (e.g., exposure to emotional adversity) and higher risk of suicide death. Among studies that also examined suicide attempt, there was a similar profile of risk factors. We discuss a range of potential pathways implicated in these associations and suggest that additional research be conducted to better understand how early life factors could interact with acute precipitants and increase vulnerability to suicide.