Thursday, June 16, 2016

Domestic Violence Exposure in Childhood Leads to Increased Suicide Risk in Adulthood

The Childhood Incidents That Increase Later Suicide Risk

Exposure to domestic violence, abuse cast a long shadow, study finds
Retrieved from:

MONDAY, June 13, 2016 (HealthDay News) — Adults who witnessed parental domestic violence in childhood are at increased risk for suicide attempts, a new study finds.

“When domestic violence is chronic in a home, there is a risk of long-term negative outcomes for the children, even when the children themselves are not abused,” said study lead author Esme Fuller-Thomson. She is a professor with the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Social Work.

The researchers examined data from more than 22,500 Canadian adults. They found that about 17 percent of those exposed to chronic parental domestic violence (more than 10 times before age 16) had attempted suicide, compared with roughly 2 percent of those not exposed to parental domestic violence.

“We had expected that the association between chronic parental domestic violence and later suicide attempts would be explained by childhood sexual or physical abuse, or by mental illness and substance abuse,” Fuller-Thomson said in a university news release. “However, even when we took these factors into account, those exposed to chronic parental domestic violence still had more than twice the odds of having attempted suicide.”

These chaotic home environments cast a long shadow, she added.

“Social workers and health professionals must continue to work vigilantly to prevent domestic violence and to support survivors of this abuse and their children,” Fuller-Thomson said.

The study also found that adults who were maltreated during their childhood were more likely to have attempted suicide. Almost 17 percent of those who’d been sexually abused and more than 12 percent of physically abused children were later found to have made at least one suicide attempt, said study co-author Reshma Dhrodia, a recent Master of Social Work graduate.

The researchers also found that a history of major depressive disorder, anxiety disorders, substance abuse and/or chronic pain was associated with significantly higher odds of a suicide attempt.

The study was published online June 9 in the journal Child: Care, Health and Development.

More information
The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry outlines how to help children exposed to domestic violence.

Trauma-informed care and practice resources for adults

Trauma-Informed Care and Practice 

To provide trauma-informed care to children, youth, and families involved with child welfare, professionals must understand the impact of trauma on child development and learn how to effectively minimize its effects without causing additional trauma (Child Welfare Information Gateway).

Below are resources that are helpful to support the development of trauma-informed practices and provide helpers with opportunities to develop enhanced knowledge and skills in supporting adults coping with trauma. I will be providing a separate post for trauma-related resources for children and youth.


Trauma-informed Practice Guide (2013). Retrieved from:
  • The Trauma-Informed Practice (TIP) Guide and TIP Organizational Checklist are intended to support the translation of trauma-informed principles into practice. Included are concrete strategies to guide the professional work of practitioners assisting clients with mental health and substance use (MHSU) concerns in British Columbia. 
Authors: Emily Arthur, Amanda Seymour, Michelle Dartnall, Paula Beltgens, Nancy Poole, Diane Smylie, Naomi North, and Rose Schmidt
Initial draft authors: Cristine Urquhart and Fran Jasiura of Change Talk Associates
British Columbia Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health; BC Ministry of Health, Mental Health and Substance Use Branch; and Vancouver Isl
and Health Authority, Youth and Family Substance Use Services, 2013.

Trauma-informed: The Trauma Toolkit Second Edition (2013). Klinic Community Health Centre (Manitoba). Retrieved from:
  • A resource for service organizations and providers to deliver services that are trauma-informed
Trauma-informed Approaches in Addictions Treatment (2010). Retrieved from:

  • A discussion guide to gendering the National Framework for Action to Reduce the Harms Associated with Alcohol and Other Drugs and Substances in Canada. Identifies Canadian examples of promising practices in action. Lists discussion questions on providing integrated approaches.

Authors: British Columbia Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health (BCCEWH) in partnership with the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse (CCSA) and the Universities of Saskatchewan and South Australia, 2010.

United States

National Center for Trauma-Informed Care

Seeking Safety: A Treatment Manual for PTSD and Substance Abuse