(Posted 2021 September)
Here’s a disturbing fact you may not know: there’s a strong connection between sexual assault and suicide.
When you think about it, it's probably not surprising that survivors of sexual assault can face a much higher risk of suicidal feelings. A sexual assault can leave more than physical scars; there are often psychological and emotional effects, too, including panic attacks, sleep disorders and self-harm. To cope with the trauma of an assault, survivors can dissociate or find other more damaging and permanent ways to escape the pain.
In fact, research shows survivors of sexual assault are 10 times more likely to attempt suicide than those who haven’t experienced sexual assault. Studies also show survivors whose first assault occurred before the age of 16 were at an even greater risk, with suicide attempts occurring three to four times more than in those assaulted after that age. Additionally, survivors of sexual assault are often diagnosed with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, two mental health conditions that can have serious impacts on a person’s ability to manage stress and anxiety.
All survivors deserve support to recover and lead a full life—during September, Suicide Prevention Month, and all year long. If you need support because you have experienced sexual violence or are concerned about someone who has, help is available.
Fairfax County Domestic and Sexual Violence 24-Hour Hotline
Community Services Board Emergency Services
Text Line: Contact PRS CrisisLink by texting CONNECT to 855-11.
If you are in immediate danger, please call 911.
Learn more information about sexual violence and suicide at the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.
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