Suicide risk following child sexual abuse

Ambul Pediatr. 2001 Sep-Oct;1(5):262-6. doi: 10.1367/1539-4409(2001)001<0262:srfcsa>;2.


Objective: To determine the suicide rate and prevalence of suicide attempts and suicidal ideation in 183 young people who had experienced child sexual abuse and to examine variables related to the abuse, which may correlate with suicide attempts or suicidal ideation.

Methods: Adolescents and young adults who had experienced child sexual abuse and individuals from a nonabused comparison group were asked about suicide attempts and suicidal ideation 5 and 9 years after intake to the study. Nine years after the abuse, a national death search was carried out to ascertain the number and causes of death in the 2 groups. Logistic regression was used to assess information on demographic and family functioning variables, the sexual abuse, notifications for other child abuse, criminal convictions, and out-of-home placements that were related to the outcome variables.

Results: Young people who had experienced child sexual abuse had a suicide rate that was 10.7 to 13.0 times the national Australian rates. There were no suicides in the control group. Thirty-two percent of the abused children had attempted suicide, and 43% had thought about suicide since they were sexually abused.

Conclusions: Little information seems to be available to clinicians at the time of investigations for child sexual abuse in children that may identify those who are at increased risk of suicide. Abuse by an acquaintance, parental denial, or being angry with the child and not the abuser may predispose to suicide attempts but not necessarily to a completed suicide.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Distribution
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / statistics & numerical data*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Data Collection
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Distribution
  • Suicide / statistics & numerical data*
  • Suicide, Attempted / statistics & numerical data
  • Survival Analysis