Child sex abuse victims at higher risk of suicide

February 16th, 2010 - 5:04 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, Feb 16 (IANS) Children victimised by sexual abuse are at increased risk of suicide and accidental fatal drug overdose later in life, says a new study.
Margaret Cutajar, psychologist in forensic behavioural science at Monash University in Melbourne, and co-authors James Ogloff and Paul Mullen, both professors, probed rates of fatal self-harm in 2,759 people who were victims of child sexual abuse (CSA) between 1964 and 1995.

They found significantly higher rates of suicide and accidental fatal drug overdose in the CSA cohort as compared to the general population.

Cutajar said it was surprising that anxiety was the most commonly reported diagnosis among the 20 CSA victims who died from self-harm and for whom psychiatric information was recorded.

“Depression and psychosis have been consistently shown to be strong predictors of suicide; however, most of the CSA victims in our study who died from self-harm had a recorded diagnosis of anxiety disorder,” Cutajar said.

“These findings suggest that victims of CSA who die from self-harm have a different psychopathological profile to non-abused individuals who die from self-harm,” said Cutajar.

The study also found that, on average, almost 20 years had passed from examination for CSA to death, indicating that CSA was not an immediate precipitant to fatal self-harm.

These findings were published in the Medical Journal of Australia.

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