December 19, 2008

Men sexually abused as children troubled

Men sexually abused as children are 10 times more likely to contemplate suicide, but many are not diagnosed as depressed, researchers in Britain said.

Researchers at the University of Bath in England said the study of Australian men found that those who were sexually abused as children were more likely than women to consider taking their own lives.

Dr. Patrick O'Leary and Nick Gould, who conducted a series of surveys and face-to-face interviews with men, said many men suffer feelings of failure and isolation and think that it is a sign of weakness to discuss their past abuse by others. Men also tend to visit their doctors less frequently, so those who are at risk of suicide often slip under the radar of the healthcare system.

Childhood sexual abuse is an under-recognized problem in men -- most of the studies exploring the link with suicide have been in women, O'Leary said in a statement.

Men are particularly vulnerable because they don't like to talk to others about their problems. It's difficult for anyone to come to terms with traumatic experiences such as childhood sexual abuse, but for men the stigma is worse because they don't tend to confide in their friends as much.

The findings are published online in British Journal of Social Work.