Nonfatal Suicidal Behavior among Women Prisoners
The Predictive Roles of Childhood Victimization, Childhood Neglect, and Childhood Positive Support
Stephen J. Tripodi, Eyitayo Onifade, Carrie Pettus-Davis
International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology
Women entering prison report high rates of childhood victimization. Women in prison also report higher rates of nonfatal suicidal behavior (self-reported suicide attempts) than women in the general population and similar rates to their male counterparts despite having significantly lower suicide rates than males in the general population. Yet, there is a dearth of research that addresses the relationship between childhood victimization and suicidality for women prisoners in the United States. The purpose of this study is (a) to assess the relationship between childhood victimization and nonfatal suicidal behavior for a random sample of women prisoners; (b) to investigate predictive differences between childhood physical victimization, childhood sexual victimization, childhood neglect, and childhood support; and (c) to determine whether women prisoners with higher frequencies of childhood victimization and neglect are more likely to have attempted suicide than women prisoners with lower frequencies. Results indicate that childhood victimization, neglect, and lack of support are all significantly associated with nonfatal suicidal behavior among women prisoners. Frequency of childhood neglect had a larger effect size than frequency of childhood physical victimization, childhood sexual victimization, and lack of support. The results of this study add to the growing body of literature on childhood victimization and suicidality in general, and nonfatal suicidal behavior for prisoner populations in particular. The article ends with a discussion on clinical implications; particularly the finding that frequency of childhood victimization, childhood neglect, and lack of childhood support matters when determining the risk of suicidality.