A comparison of child-sex-abuse-related and mental-disorder-related suicide in a six-year cohort of regional suicides: the importance of the child protection-psychiatric interface

Authors: King, E. and Pritchard, C.

Journal: British Journal of Social Work

Volume: 34

Pages: 181-198

ISSN: 0045-3102

DOI: 10.1093/bjsw/bch021


The study compares Mental-Disorder-Related (MDR) suicide rates with Child-Sex-Abuse-Related (CSAR) suicide of ‘Victims’ and ‘Perpetrators’ of child sex abuse, based upon an examination of all Coroners’ inquest files over a six-year period (n = 1,017). Census data,psychiatric case register and police records were used to calculate the potential MDR and CSAR populations. There were five main findings: (i) male and female CSAR victim suicide rates were 2.2. and 2.5 times the General Population Suicide Rate (GPSR), respectively; (ii) every female, and 80 per cent of male CSAR victim suicides, also had a mental disorder but none of the CSAR perpetrator suicides; (iii) male and female MDR suicide rates were 5 and 6 times the CSAR Victim rates; (iv) the sex abuser perpetrators’ suicide rate was more than 3 times the male MDR rate; (v) the intra- and extra-familial perpetrator suicide rates, were 25 and 78 times the GPSR, respectively. Possible explanations for these surprising results are briefly discussed. They confirm the overrepresentation of people with mental disorder amongst suicides, and identify an overrepresentation of CSAR suicides, particularly perpetrators. The results have implications for suicide prevention programmes, whilst highlighting the importance of the child protection–psychiatric interface, and indicates the futility of simple explanations in an area of practical and moral complexity.


Source: Manual