Comprehensive Suicide Prevention and Adverse Childhood Experiences

May 26, 2017

News Type:  Weekly Spark, Weekly Spark Research

A recent commentary in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine suggests that the prevention of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) is “a compelling area that provides unfulfilled promise for expanding and strengthening upstream suicide prevention.” ACEs include emotional, physical, and sexual abuse; emotional and physical neglect; and the presence of household challenges, including intimate partner violence, substance abuse, mental illness, separation or divorce, and parental incarceration. ACEs have been linked to risk factors for suicide later in life, including suicide attempts, depression, substance abuse, relationship problems, and reduced employment and income.

The authors pointed out that there is a growing understanding of the need for a comprehensive approach to suicide prevention that includes (1) upstream (i.e., primary) and downstream (i.e., secondary and tertiary) prevention and (2) interventions that address all levels of the social ecology. Currently, most efforts to prevent suicide take place downstream and at the individual or family/relationship levels of the social ecology. The authors recommended that the field of suicide prevention collaborate with other sectors, including education, business, and health care, to reduce children’s exposure to adverse experiences. That would, in turn, reduce suicidal behaviors—and risk factors that contribute to suicidal behaviors—later in the lifespan.

The commentary was coauthored by staff from the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and SAMHSA’s Suicide Prevention Resource Center (Education Development Center, Inc.).

Ports, K. A., Merrick, M. T., Stone, D. M., Wilkins, N. J., Reed, J., Ebin, J., & Ford, D. C. (2017). Adverse childhood experiences and suicide risk: Toward comprehensive prevention. American Journal of Preventive Medicine

Spark Extras!

For more information on adverse childhood experiences, see:

For more information on implementing a comprehensive approach that includes upstream and downstream prevention at all levels of the social ecology, see: