Traumatic Stress and Suicide Risk

Erika M. Roberge, Feea R. Leifker, Shelby N. Baker, David C. Rozek, Craig J. Bryan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

2 Scopus citations


Suicide is a leading cause of death in the United States. About 9 percent of adults will experience serious suicide ideation in their lifetimes, but many fewer will go on to make a suicide attempt or die by suicide. Therefore, identification of who is likely to transition from suicidal thoughts to actions is imperative to preventing suicide deaths. Traumatic experiences and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are two of a limited number of risk factors that differentiate suicide ideators from suicide attempters. Further, certain types of trauma and groups of people are at increased risk for suicidal thoughts and actions. For example, childhood trauma and maltreatment, as well as history of sexual assault, are both associated with unique risk for suicidal thoughts and behaviors after controlling for various additional risk factors and PTSD symptom severity. Additionally, military personnel/veterans and lesbian, gay, transgender, and bisexual individuals are two high-risk populations for death by suicide. Several theories of how traumatic experiences confer increased risk for suicidal thoughts and behaviors, as well as theories within the ideation-to-action framework (which explain transition from suicidal thoughts to behaviors), are presented and discussed to increase understanding of this phenomenon, as well as possible targets of intervention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Traumatic Stress Disorders, SECOND EDITION
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9780190088224
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • epidemiology
  • ideation to action
  • intervention targets
  • PTSD
  • suicide
  • trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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