Adverse Childhood Experiences and Suicidality and Self-Harm in Persons in Secure Forensic Care

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Prior research suggests a greater degree of suicidality and self-harm behavior in those involved with criminal justice and forensic mental health systems. Such individuals also evidence increased exposure to early childhood adversity, which is often associated with suicide risk. Other significant predictors of suicidality have been noted within forensic populations, however, including indicators of specific psychopathology and situational and demographic factors. These populations present with overlapping risk factors that remain underexamined. In the current study, 182 persons residing in secure forensic psychiatric care following incidents of illegal and aggressive behavior were evaluated. Adverse childhood experiences and other empirically derived potential predictors of suicide attempts and self-harm were examined via binomial logistic regression. Findings indicate frequent experiences of early adversity across participants, and that a combination of race, individual adverse childhood experiences, number of biological children, and diagnoses of either posttraumatic stress disorder or borderline personality disorder were significant predictors of suicide attempts, self-harm behavior, and first hospitalization resulting from a suicide attempt. Clinical and research implications are discussed.