Suicide attempts and self-harm behaviors in psychiatric sex offenders

Sex Abuse. 2014 Jun;26(3):252-70. doi: 10.1177/1079063213486935. Epub 2013 May 8.


Suicidality and self-harm behaviors among sex offenders remain underreported in the clinical literature and are often misunderstood in this complex population. The present study aims to identify rates of suicide attempts and self-injurious behaviors in a sample of 1,184 psychiatric inpatients, 462 of whom are sexual offenders. Between-group comparisons revealed significant differences in history of suicide attempts and self-harm behaviors, with sexual offenders evidencing greater rates of both. Significant psychiatric correlates of suicide attempts and self-harm behaviors among sex offenders varied by group and included a variety of psychiatric symptom presentations. These are compared with the general literature on suicide risk and the sex offender population. Implications for treatment of these behaviors in a sex offender population are discussed.

Keywords: self-harm; self-injurious behavior; sex offender psychopathology; suicide attempts.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Criminals / statistics & numerical data*
  • Hospitals, Psychiatric*
  • Humans
  • Inpatients / psychology
  • Inpatients / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Regression Analysis
  • Self-Injurious Behavior / epidemiology*
  • Sex Offenses / statistics & numerical data*
  • Suicide, Attempted / statistics & numerical data*