209107 Neurobiological relationships with suicidal and homicidal behaviors of females

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Kathleen Brewer-Smyth, PhD RN CRRN , School of Nursing, University of Delaware, Newark, DE
Background: It is critical to identify risk factors for homicidal and suicidal behaviors of females since the increase in female suicide bombers world-wide.

Objective: To define neurobiological correlates of homicidal and suicidal behavior of females.

Methods: An exploratory cross sectional investigation of qualitative and quantitative data from private interviews and examinations of 133 female minimum and maximum security prison inmates and 12 non-criminal females were analyzed with descriptive, graphical, and linear regression analyses to define neurobiological relationships to homicidal and suicidal behavior.

Results: Poverty, limited access to filtered water, known actual and potential lead and other toxin exposure, poor nutrition, childhood physical and sexual abuse, neglect, and neurological impairment were prevalent problems throughout the prison population. Risk factors of childhood physical and sexual abuse, abuse-related hospital visits, and neurological abnormalities were related to youth suicidal behaviors and adult homicidal behavior. Greater severity and frequency of childhood sexual abuse was related to higher childhood physical abuse scores (p=.000), greater number of incarcerated adult family members per subject (p=.000), hospital visits for abuse-related injuries (p=.045), neurological examination abnormalities (p=.042), traumatic brain injuries (TBI) (p=.000), more recent abuse in adulthood (p=.002), abnormal neuroendocrine cortisol production (p=.028), suicide attempts (p=.000), and greater likelihood of having committed homicide (p=.008).

Conclusions: To prevent suicidal and homicidal behaviors, female children of incarcerated adults who live in poverty must be protected from potential neurological and neuroendocrine correlates of childhood poverty, abuse and neglect that could lead to suicidal and homicidal behaviors. Childhood sexual abuse must be taken seriously.

Learning Objectives:
1. Differentiate between health histories contributing to neurobiological conditions of females displaying violence against self or others compared to females who do not engage in these behaviors; 2. Identify risk factors associated with homicidal and suicidal behaviors of females.

Keywords: Behavioral Research, Violence Prevention

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: PhD and Postdoctoral fellowship completed with focus on forensics, neuroscience, and epidemiology, University of Pennsylvania *Brewer-Smyth, K. & Burgess, A.W. (2008). Childhood sexual abuse by a family member, salivary cortisol, and homicidal behavior of female prison inmates. Nursing Research, 57(3), 166-174. *Brewer-Smyth, K. (2008). Ethical, regulatory, and investigator considerations in prison research. Advances in Nursing Science, 31(2) 119-127. *Brewer-Smyth, K., Bucurescu, G, Shults, J., Metzger, D., Sacktor, N., van Gorp, W., Kolson, D.L. (2007). Neurological function and HIV risk behaviors of female prison inmates. Journal of Neuroscience Nursing, 39(6), 361-372. *Brewer-Smyth, K., Burgess, A. W., Shults, J. (2004). Physical and sexual abuse, salivary cortisol, and neurological correlates of violent criminal behavior of female prison inmates. Biological Psychiatry, 55(1), 21-31.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.