The Relationship Between Lifetime Abuse and Suicidal Ideation in a Sample of Injection Drug Users

Jacqueline J. Lloyd, Erin P. Ricketts, Jennifer R. Havens, Llewellyn J. Cornelius, David Bishai, Steven Huettner, Carl Latkin, Steffanie A. Strathdee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


This study examined the relationship between lifetime abuse and suicidal ideation in a sample of 245 injection drug users (IDUs) who attended the Baltimore Needle Exchange Program and received a referral for opiate agonist therapy. Data were obtained from baseline interviews and HIV antibody tests. The sample mean age was 42.2 (SD = 8.1); 77% were African American; 69% were male. Overall, 27% reported thoughts of suicide in the last six months, and lifetime emotional, physical and sexual abuse was reported by 17%, 12% and 10%, respectively. In bivariate analyses, recent suicidal ideation was associated with emotional (odds ratio [OR] = 3.2; p = 0.001), physical (OR = 2.5; p = 0.026), and sexual abuse (OR = 5.0; p < 0.001). In multiple logistic regression models controlling for HIV status and Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression (CES-D) score, individuals who experienced emotional abuse were more than twice as likely to report recent suicidal ideation (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 2.6; p = 0.011); those who experienced sexual abuse were four times more likely to report suicidal ideation (AOR = 4.0; p = 0.004). These findings suggest that emotional and sexual abuse might be risk factors for suicidality among IDUs and also might suggest that suicide prevention should be an integral part of drug treatment for treatment-seeking IDUs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-166
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Psychoactive Drugs
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2007


  • Emotional abuse
  • Injection drug use
  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Suicide ideation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • General Psychology


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