Toronto: Those exposed to chronic parental domestic violence are at higher risk of having attempted suicide than those without this childhood adversity, new research has found.
“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,” said lead author Esme Fuller-Thomson from University of Toronto.
“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,” Fuller-Thomson said.
The study examined a nationally representative sample of 22,559 community-dwelling Canadians, using data from the 2012 Canadian Community Health Survey-Mental Health.
Parental domestic violence was defined as “chronic” if it had occurred more than 10 times before the respondent was age 16.
Lifetime prevalence of suicide attempts among adults who had been exposed to chronic parental domestic violence during childhood was 17.3 per cent compared to 2.3 per cent among those without this childhood adversity, the findings showed.
The study was published online in the journal Child: Care, Health and Development.
“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,” Fuller-Thomson said.
“These chaotic home environments cast a long shadow. 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 noted.