Adolescent Violent Offenders With Childhood Adversity Have Increased Risk of Suicide Interview with:
Emma Björkenstam PhD
Department of Public Health Sciences
Karolinska Institutet What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: My research team and I have previously shown that childhood adversity is associated with an elevated suicide risk in young adults, and this increased risk may be explained by maladaptive trajectories during adolescence. We also know that adolescent violent offending is linked with suicide, but up until now, less was known about the role of violent offending in the association between childhood adversity and later suicide.

Our main finding in the current study, based on almost half a million Swedes, is that individuals with a history of childhood adversity who also engage in violent offending in late adolescence, have a substantial increased risk of suicide. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: When studied separately, childhood adversities and adolescent violent offending are risk markers for later suicide. However, adolescent violent offenders growing up in childhood adversity have even higher risk for suicide. These findings emphasize the importance of tailoring interventions to prevent externalizing behavior during childhood and to increase support to adolescents with delinquent behavior. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: Our study clearly shows that childhood adversities are linked to subsequent violent offending. It would be beneficial if we could more closely examine what drives these elevated risks, e.g. by comparing study participants with their unaffected siblings. Thank you for your contribution to the community.


Emma Björkenstam, Anders Hjern, Charlotte Björkenstam, Kyriaki Kosidou. Association of Cumulative Childhood Adversity and Adolescent Violent Offending With Suicide in Early Adulthood. JAMA Psychiatry. Published online December 13, 2017. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2017.3788

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions. 

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Last Updated on December 14, 2017 by Marie Benz MD FAAD