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Suicide attempts among men with histories of child sexual abuse: Examining abuse severity, mental health, and masculine norms

Scott D. Easton, Lynette M. Renner & Patrick O'Leary.

Child Abuse & Neglect

Available online 11 January 2013

 

Abstract

Objective

Men who were sexually abused during childhood are at risk for a variety of long-term mental health problems, including suicidality. However, little is known about which factors are related to recent suicide attempts for this vulnerable, under-researched population. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between abuse severity, mental health, masculine norms and recent suicide attempts among men with histories of child sexual abuse (CSA).

 

Methods

We analyzed survey data gathered from a purposive sample of 487 men who were sexually abused during childhood. The age of the sample ranged from 19 to 84 years (μ = 50.4 years). Recent suicide attempts served as the dependent variable in the study. Self-reported measures of sexual abuse severity, child physical abuse, mental health, masculine norms, and demographic information (age, race) represented the independent variables.

 

Results

The results from logistic regression modeling found that five variables – duration of the sexual abuse, use of force during the sexual abuse, high conformity to masculine norms, level of depressive symptoms, and suicidal ideation – increased the odds of a suicide attempt in the past 12 months.

 

Conclusion

To improve mental health services for men with histories of CSA, mental health practitioners should incorporate sexual abuse severity, current mental health, and adherence to masculine norms into assessment and treatment planning.

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