Chonnam Med J.  2021 May;57(2):126-131. 10.4068/cmj.2021.57.2.126.

Association between Childhood Trauma and Suicidal Behavior in the General Population

  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Chonnam National University Medical School, Gwangju, Korea.
  • 2Gwangju Mental Health and Welfare Commission, Gwangju, Korea.
  • 3Department of Psychiatry, Gwangju City Mental Hospital, Gwangju, Korea.


This study aimed to investigate the associations between various types of childhood trauma and suicidal behavior in the general population in South Korea. This mental health survey included a total of 1,490 general citizens living in a metropolitan South Korean city who completed a questionnaire that assessed respondents’ histories of childhood trauma before the age of 12 years, including bullying victimization, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, and physical abuse, as well as suicidal behavior, including current suicidal ideation and histories of suicide planning and attempts. The following psychiatric scales were administered: Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS), Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (R-SES), Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale (CD-RISC), Perceived Stress Scale (PSS), and visual analogue scale of EuroQol 5D (EQ-5D). Participants who experienced any childhood trauma had significantly higher HADS and PSS scores, and significantly lower EQ-5D scores. Additionally, participants with any type of childhood trauma were significantly more likely to have current suicidal ideation and histories of planned and attempted suicide. Multivariate analyses adjusted for confounding variables indicated that bullying victimization and sexual abuse were associated significantly with all types of suicidal behavior. Physical abuse was associated significantly with histories of suicide planning and attempts. The present findings showed that any type of childhood trauma was associated with higher levels of suicidality, anxiety, depression, and perceived stress, as well as lower health-related quality of life, in the general population. In particular, associations between childhood trauma and suicidality were identified after adjustment for confounding variables.


Sexual Child Abuse; Bullying; Depression; Attempted Suicide
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