Childhood Abuse, Household Dysfunction and the Risk of Attempting Suicide in a National Sample of Secondary School and University Students

  • Marija Raleva University Clinic of Psychiatry, Medical Faculty at Ss Cyril and Methodius University of Skopje, Skopje
  • Dimitrinka Jordanova Peshevska World Health Organization, Country Office Skopje, Skopje
  • Izabela Filov Higher Medical School, Bitola
  • Dinesh Sethi World Health Organization, Regional Office for Europe, Copenhagen
  • Antoni Novotni University Clinic of Psychiatry, Medical Faculty at Ss Cyril and Methodius University of Skopje, Skopje
  • Dimitar Bonevski Psychiatric Hospital Skopje, Skopje
  • Kadri Haxhihamza University Clinic of Psychiatry, Medical Faculty at Ss Cyril and Methodius University of Skopje, Skopje
Keywords: childhood abuse, household dysfunction risk factors, suicide attempt, suicide prevention, Republic of Macedonia.


OBJECTIVES: One of the main objectives of this paper is to analyze the associations between childhood abuse, household dysfunction and the risk of attempting suicide among young adolescents in the country.

METHOD: A representative sample consisted of total 1277 students (58.6% female and 41.6% male), aged 18 and above in year four of 664 secondary school and 613 first- and second-year university students. The data were obtained using Adverse Childhood Experiences Study Questionnaires (Family Health History Questionnaire) for collecting information on child maltreatment, household dysfunction and other socio-behavioural factors, applying WHO/CDC-recommended methodology. Statistical significance was set up at p<0.05.

RESULTS: Emotional neglect, physical abuse and physical neglect were the most frequent abusive experiences students had. Overall, suicide attempts were reported by 3.1 % of respondents (4.7% by females and 0.8% by males). Those respondents who had been emotionally abused were almost three times as likely to attempt suicide, physical abuse almost doubles the chances of attempting suicide, substance abuse in the family increased the chances 2.3 times for attempting suicide, violent treatment of the mother almost quadrupled them for attempted suicide, having a family member who had been in prison increased the odds of almost 3.5 times for attempting suicide. Attempted suicide was found to be 1.5 times more likely as the number of ACEs reached 3 and 3.4 times more likely as the number of adverse childhood experiences reached four or more. 

CONCLUSION: Identifying and treating children, adolescents and young adults who have been affected by adverse childhood experiences may have substantial value in our evolving efforts to prevent suicide.


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How to Cite
Raleva M, Jordanova Peshevska D, Filov I, Sethi D, Novotni A, Bonevski D, Haxhihamza K. Childhood Abuse, Household Dysfunction and the Risk of Attempting Suicide in a National Sample of Secondary School and University Students. Open Access Maced J Med Sci [Internet]. 2014Jun.15 [cited 2020Oct.30];2(2):379-83. Available from:
Preventing Interpersonal Violence in Europe