Reifels, L., Spittal, M.J., Dückers, M.L.A., Mills, K., Pirkis, J.
Suicidality risk and (repeat) disaster exposure: findings from a nationally representative population survey.
Psychiatry, 81 (2018) 2, p. 158-172.
Objective: Despite growing awareness of adverse mental health consequences, the scarce existing evidence on the link of disaster exposure and suicidality has remained inconclusive, and the differential suicidality risk associated with distinct levels of natural and man-made disaster exposure is unknown. We therefore investigated the lifetime prevalence and risk of suicidal behavior associated with natural and man-made disaster exposure in Australia. Method: We utilized data from a nationally representative mental health survey (n = 8,841). Univariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses examined the lifetime risk of suicidal thoughts, plans, and attempts associated with varied types and levels of disaster exposure. We focused explicitly on natural and man-made disasters while controlling for other types of trauma exposure, including established risk factors for suicidality. Results: Multivariate analyses indicated that those exposed to multiple natural (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 2.21, 95% confidence interval [CI] = [1.04, 4.71], p < .05) or man-made disasters (AOR 3.4, 95% CI = [1.20, 9.58] p < .05) were at significantly greater risk of making suicide attempts, whereas single natural or man-made disaster exposure was not associated with an increased risk of suicidal behavior. Conclusions: Our study findings establish the differential suicidality risk associated with natural and man-made disaster exposure in Australia and highlight the critical role of repeat disaster exposure across distinct disaster types. Suicidal behavior may warrant increasing attention in psychosocial recovery schemes, particularly in the context of disaster-prone areas and for population groups at elevated risk of repeat disaster exposure. (aut. ref.)