Adverse Childhood Experiences in Brazilian College Students: Examining Associations with Suicidal Ideation and Risky Behaviors

Luciana C. Assini-Meytin, Andreia Isabel Giacomozzi, Sidnei R. Priolo Filho, Joana Milan Lorandi, Ilona Laurinaitytė

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The association between adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and poor health outcomes is well-established in high-income countries. However, the evidence is limited for the association of ACEs, mental health, and risky behaviors for low- and middle-income countries. Moreover, studies often overlook prescription drug misuse and risky driving when examining the association of ACEs with risky behaviors. In our study, we examined the associations between ACEs, suicidal ideation, and risky behaviors (binge drinking, prescription drug misuse, and risky driving) among Brazilian college students. Methods: Participants consisted of a convenience sample of students recruited from undergraduate courses primarily in two states in Southern Brazil (93%). Data were collected via an online survey between December 2020 and August 2021. The analytical sample comprised 503 participants, most were female (71%), and the mean age was 24 years. Survey instrument included questions on ten different ACE types, mental health, and risky behaviors. Statistical analyses included univariate descriptive analysis, binary and multivariable regression models. Results: Across the ten ACE types assessed, only 14% of participants reported no ACEs, and 29% of participants experienced polyvictimization (i.e., four or more ACES). Multivariable models showed that, compared to those with no ACEs, participants who experienced polyvictimization had significantly increased odds of reporting suicide ideation (AOR = 6.21, p <.001), prescription drug misuse (AOR = 8.78, p <.01), and riding with an impaired driver (AOR = 3.58, p <.01). Conclusions: Our findings support the need for psychological support and services available for college students with multiple ACEs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Child and Adolescent Trauma
StateAccepted/In press - 2023


  • Adverse childhood experiences
  • Brazilian sample
  • college students
  • Risky behaviors
  • Suicidal ideation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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