A news release today from the Medical Journal of Australia describes a recent research study showing that “victims of child sexual abuse are at increased risk of suicide and accidental fatal drug overdose later in life.”
[Researchers] found significantly higher rates of suicide and accidental fatal drug overdose in the CSA [child sex abuse] cohort compared with age-limited national data for the general population …
“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,” [writes the lead author of the study, Dr. Margaret Cutajar, a psychologist at Monash University in Melbourne]. “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.”
Interestingly, the research shows a significant gap in time between identification of the abuse and a person’s death by suicide.
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. An accompanying editorial in the journal, by Professor Ross Kalucy, Director of Emergency Mental Health at Flinders Medical Centre, states
“Although child sexual abuse is a marker for later psychosocial problems, it may not be the critical formative experience. The complex psychopathological conditions that are associated with disorders of adolescence and young adulthood need more investigation, and their association with child sexual abuse needs explanation.”
[The abridged URL for this post is http://tinyurl.com/CSA-suicide .]