Background and objective: Childhood trauma and aggressive traits are considered risk factors for suicidal behavior. The hypothesis we aimed to test in this study was the existence of an association between childhood trauma and aggression in two distinct samples of Italian and French suicide attempters.
Method: Study participants comprise 587 subjects with different psychiatric diagnoses according to DSM-IV-TR criteria. Three different samples were analyzed and compared: a group of French suicide attempters (N=396; mean age 40.47 SD=13.52; M/F: 110/286); a group of Italian suicide attempters (N=103; mean age 38.60 SD=12.04; M/F 27/76) and an Italian psychiatric comparison group (N=88; mean age: 41.49 SD=12.05; M/F; 37/51). Patients were interviewed with the Brown-Goodwin Assessment for Lifetime History of Aggression (BGLHA) and the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ) 34-items for Italian data and 28-items for French data.
Results: When compared with the comparison group, Italian suicide attempters had significantly higher scores on the BGLHA scale and reported higher scores on the CTQ scores for physical abuse, sexual abuse and emotional abuse. Significant correlations between childhood trauma and aggression were found in both groups, Italian and French, of suicide attempters.
Conclusion: The hypothesis tested was supported as psychiatric patients who had attempted suicide reported significantly more childhood trauma and aggression. Significant correlations were found between aggressive behavior, and childhood trauma in suicidal patients. This finding was replicated in two independently recruited samples in two countries with different prevalence of suicidal behavior.