New findings highlight that child sexual abuse is a major risk factor for future illness
Child sexual abuse is a social issue but, because of its association with psychological and other problems, it is of special concern to the medical profession.1 An article by Cutajar and colleagues in this issue of the Journal (page 184) shows a greatly increased risk of suicide among people who have experienced sexual abuse in childhood.2 The findings are somewhat stunning: compared with the general population, those with a record of experiencing child sexual abuse had a relative risk of suicide of 18.09 (14.20 for males and 40.38 for females). The relative risk of accidental fatal drug overdose was 88.42 for females and 38.46 for males. Such relative risks are high and of the same order of magnitude as those that link cigarette smoking to lung cancer and chronic obstructive airways disease.3
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