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Suicide Life Threat Behav. 1998 Spring;28(1):107-26.

Effects of sexual victimization on suicidal ideation and behavior in U.S. college women.

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St. John's University, Department of Psychology, Jamaica, New York 11439, USA.


This study examines the relationship between suicidal ideation and behavior and five types of sexual victimization in a sample of 393 female undergraduate students. Participants completed self-report measures of sexual victimization, hopelessness, suicidal ideation, and suicidal behavior. Adult sexual victimization, but not childhood sexual abuse, predicted current hopelessness and suicidal ideation. Both childhood sexual abuse and adult sexual victimization predicted suicidal behavior. One in four rape victims, in contrast to approximately 1 in 20 nonvictimized women, had engaged in a suicidal act. Vaginal penetration following the threat or use of physical force was a stronger predictor of suicidal behavior than penetration without the use of force and/or force without penetration. The findings point to the importance of inquiring about experiences of sexual victimization when conducting research or treatment with suicidal women as well as the need for suicide risk assessment in programs for victims of sexual violence.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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