Childhood Abuse Can Lead to Suicidal Behavior in Adulthood

Childhood mistreatment can have long term consequences on a child’s mental well-being as it increases the risk of multiple health conditions that can disturb their physical, behavioral, emotional, psychological and social development.

However, a recent meta-analysis has found that childhood maltreatment including sexual abuse leads to suicidal thoughts, behavior and attempts later in life.  The findings of the study have been published in the Journal of  American Medical Association (JAMA): Pediatrics.

The research team from the University of South Wales, the University of Manchester, and the Manchester Academic Health Science Centre (MAHSC), Manchester, United Kingdom have conducted a meta-analysis and systematic review to find out the consequences of childhood mistreatment or abuse whether physical, emotional or sexual in children and young adults in their later life.

The current analysis was included 79 different studies that were based on a link between childhood maltreatment and suicidal behavior of the victims of abusive attacks. The sample was collected from different resources including Medline, PsychInfo, Embase, Web of Science, and Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health (CINAHL) from January 1, 1980, until December 31, 2019. The whole sample from the studies was comprised of 337,185 participants of 63.19% were females who had experienced some kind of abusive behavior at some certain point in their childhood. Child abuse has four types including physical, emotional, sexual, and neglect.

Source: JAMA

According to an estimation by the World Health Organization (WHO), every three in four children or 300 million children aged two to four have found to be a victim of physical or emotional abuse by parents or caregivers. Whereas every one in five women and one in 13 men aged zero to 17 has been sexually abused in their childhood and 120 million young girls under 20 have forced to be in sexual contact.

A study published in the journal BioMed Central (BMC) has found that one of the most common maltreatment is sexual abuse specifically in North America and Australia.

Source: National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence (NCDSV)

The present study has aimed to find associations between every type of childhood abuse and/or neglect and suicide ideation, plans, and attempts.

The quantitative analysis of the data showed that those participants had high incidents of suicidal attempts who have been an encounter with childhood maltreatment including sexual abuse, physical violence, emotionally attacked, emotionally neglected, or combined abuse.

Source: JAMA

The team also found an increased rate of suicidal thought patterns in those participants who have been mistreated in their childhood.

Another finding suggested that those individuals who have been sexually abused in their childhood were found to be highly suicidal as well as they have also planned to end their life.

The rates of suicide attempts in those who were sexually abused were highly significant in those studies that were based on community samples or with lower methodological quality. On another hand, young aged participants who had experienced sexual abuse had both suicidal ideation and attempts.

Source: JAMA

There is a need to develop public awareness about child maltreatment and devise some therapeutic techniques to prevent suicide from young adults and children who have an abusive childhood.

The childhood mistreatment by the parents or caregivers can result in various health issues besides suicidal behaviors. Other underlying health problems and consequences include depression, involvement in sexual behavior in order to get revenge, unintended pregnancies, high chances of being drug addict, increased tobacco or alcohol use, and violent behavior towards others.

For the purpose of the safety of the children to prevent child abuse, maltreatment, and neglect, there is a need to provide the children with a safe, protective, nurturing, and stable environment both inside and outside the home.

The safety of the children can be done by strengthening the economic support for the families, changing social norms by putting an effort into positive parenting and by working on parenting skills for the development of a healthy kid, and by providing quality care and early education in life. All of the above-mentioned strategies can be done with the help of the education system, the involvement of the Government, health care and social care services, and public health organizations and foundations.

Source: WHO

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