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Very few studies have attempted to define the underlying link between a history of sexual abuse and subsequent deliberate self-harm (DSH). Correlations and logistic regression modelling were used to examine the relationship between the frequency of DSH, the severity of sexual, physical, and psychological abuse, and various outcome measures in a sample of 257 females consecutively admitted to a general hospital in England after taking an overdose. The severity of all three types of abuse related strongly to the frequency of DSH, but not to measures of past or current psychopathology. Both abuse and psychopathology made independent contributions to self-poisoning, but only abuse contributed to other deliberate self-injury. These findings provide further evidence that abuse may be etiologically related to DSH. If confirmed, some patients may require treatment of the underlying abuse or its consequences in order to reduce the risk of further DSH.

Original publication




Journal article


Archives of Suicide Research

Publication Date





307 - 327