Introduction: Suicide, as the 11th leading cause of death in America, is a significant public health concern. Previous studies have shown that drug users are a population at especially high risk for suicidal ideation (SI). Although most people who think about killing themselves do not ultimately commit suicide, identifying those at risk for such thoughts is important.
Methods: In this analysis, data from a sample of 462 cocaine-using women (87% African American) recruited using street outreach methods for a National Institute on Drug Abuse-funded study were examined to identify risk factors for lifetime SI. Sociodemographic factors, adverse childhood experiences, sexual behaviors, psychiatric comorbidities, and drug abuse and dependence were examined as potential risk factors using both bivariate and logistic regression analysis.
Results: Fifty percent of the sample met at least one criterion for lifetime SI, and 32% of the sample reported a lifetime suicide attempt. In the final logistic regression model, childhood physical abuse, childhood sexual abuse, rape after the age of 15 years, posttraumatic stress disorder, and number of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, depression criteria met emerged as significant independent predictors of lifetime SI.
Conclusion: These findings identify important risk factors for SI among female substance abusers in community settings.
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