Child maltreatment, recent stressful life events, and suicide ideation: A test of the stress sensitivity hypothesis

Erinn B. Duprey, Elizabeth D. Handley, Jody Todd Manly, Dante Cicchetti, Sheree L. Toth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Exposure to child maltreatment is a well-known risk factor for suicide ideation among adolescents. Recent stressful life events may also contribute to this risk. However, the association between these risk factors is unclear in the etiology of suicide ideation for adolescents from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

OBJECTIVE: The present study tested the stress generation and stress sensitivity hypotheses in relation to child maltreatment, recent stressful life events (in the past year), and suicide ideation (in the past two weeks).

PARTICIPANTS AND SETTING: We utilized a sample of diverse, socioeconomically disadvantaged, depressed adolescent girls (N = 175) who were part of a depression treatment intervention.

RESULTS: Child maltreatment was significantly associated with adolescent suicide ideation, β = .40, p < .001. Results supported the stress sensitivity hypothesis, in that exposure to interpersonal stressors in the past year exacerbated the association between child maltreatment and adolescents' suicide ideation, β = .18, p < .05. We found evidence for a protective factor, cognitive reappraisal, in the association between stressful life events and suicide ideation, β = -.15, p < .05.

CONCLUSIONS: These findings have several implications for clinical practice and suicide prevention with adolescent girls, and contribute to the extant literature on the role of chronic and acute stress in the etiology of adolescent suicide ideation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104926
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
StatePublished - Mar 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by funding through the National Institute on Mental Health ( R01-MH091070 ). Training support was also provided to the lead author via the National Institute on Mental Health ( T32 MH20061 ).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020


  • Adolescence
  • Child maltreatment
  • Depression
  • Stressful life events
  • Suicidal ideation

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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