Background: Although childhood adversities (CAs) are known to be associated with later suicidal behavior, it is uncertain whether the timing of specific CAs may influence this association.
Methods: We analyzed nationally representative data for 9205 participants from the Korean Welfare Panel Study. Four different CAs (parental death, parental divorce, suspension of school education and being raised in a relative's house due to financial strain) were assessed and were categorized as early childhood and adolescent onset. Lifetime experiences of suicidal behaviors along with the age of the first time experience were recorded. Cox regression was used.
Results: After adjusting for age, sex, and childhood socioeconomic status, parental death before the age 01 12 was associated with adulthood suicidal behavior (ideation HR 1.35, 95% CI 1.13, 1.61; attempt FIR 1.60, 95% Cl 1.02, 2.52), while suspension of school due to financial strain was associated with suicidal behavior when it occurred at adolescence (ideation HR 1.48, 95% Cl 1.22, 1.79; plan HR 1.69, 95% CI 1.16, 2.48). When we also adjusted for adulthood SES, which is a potential mediator, there was no significant change except that the association between early parental death and suicidal attempt became nonsignificant (HR: 143, 95% CI: 0.92, 2.26).
Limitations: Experience of CA was assessed retrospectively, and the assessment of suicidal attempt was not specifically defined. There could be selection bias due to loss to the follow-up.
Conclusions: There may be a critical period for the effect of CA on later suicidal behavior depending on the characteristics of CA.