Mediators of the relation between war experiences and suicidal ideation among former child soldiers in Northern Uganda: the WAYS study

Amone-P'Olak, Kennedy, Lekhutlile, Tlholego Molemane, Meiser-Stedman, Richard and Ovuga, Emilio (2014) Mediators of the relation between war experiences and suicidal ideation among former child soldiers in Northern Uganda: the WAYS study. BMC Psychiatry, 14. ISSN 1471-244X

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Background Globally, suicide is a public health burden especially in the aftermath of war. Understanding the processes that define the path from previous war experiences (WE) to current suicidal ideation (SI) is crucial for defining opportunities for interventions. We assessed the extent to which different types of previous WE predict current SI and whether post-war hardships and depression mediate the relations between WE and SI among former child soldiers (FCS) in Northern Uganda. Methods We performed cross-sectional analyses with a sample of 539 FCS (61% male) participating in an on-going longitudinal study. The influence of various types of previous WE on current SI and mediation by post-war hardships and depression were assessed by regression analyses. Results The following types of war experiences: “witnessing violence”, “direct personal harm”, “deaths”, “Involvement in hostilities”, “sexual abuse” and “general war experiences” significantly predicted current SI in a univariable analyses whereas “direct personal harm”, “involvement in hostilities”, and “sexual abuse” independently predicted current SI in a multivariable analyses. General WE were linked to SI (β = 0.18 (95% CI 0.10 to 0.25)) through post-war hardships (accounting for 69% of the variance in their relationship) and through depression/anxiety (β = 0.17 (95% CI 0.12 to 0.22)) accounting for 65% of the variance in their relationship. The direct relationship between previous WE and current SI reduced but remained marginally significant (β = .08, CI: (.01, .17) for depression/anxiety but not for post-war hardships (β = .09, CI: (-.03, .20). Conclusion Types of WE should be examined when assessing risks for SI. Interventions to reduce SI should aim to alleviate post-war hardships and treat depression/anxiety.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2014 Amone-P'Olak et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
Uncontrolled Keywords: war experiences,suicidal ideation,former child soldiers,northern uganda,sdg 3 - good health and well-being,sdg 8 - decent work and economic growth,sdg 16 - peace, justice and strong institutions ,/dk/atira/pure/sustainabledevelopmentgoals/good_health_and_well_being
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > Norwich Medical School
Depositing User: Pure Connector
Date Deposited: 02 Jan 2015 11:40
Last Modified: 06 May 2022 01:39
DOI: 10.1186/s12888-014-0271-2

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