Suicidal ideation and self-harm among youths in Norway: associations with verbal, physical and sexual abuse
Using data from a national survey (N=6979) of young people in their last year in Norwegian secondary schools in 2007 (aged 18-19), this article explores the relationship between sexual abuse and experiences of violence amongst young people in Norway and their reporting of suicidal ideation and self-harm. This investigation includes three types of abuse experienced by young people: non-physical, physical and sexual. We investigate suicidal ideation and two types of self-harming behaviour: non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) and suicidal self-injury (SSI). The analyses that are reported involve descriptive analysis, chi-square and t-tests, and logistic regression. The hypothesis that was confirmed by the analysis was that being subject to sexual abuse or other violence was associated with increased risk of self-harm. The hypothesis that was partially supported by the analysis was that violence experienced during childhood would have more effect on suicidal ideation and self-harm than violence experienced at a later age. Contrary to our expectations, it was found that peer bullying has a stronger effect on young people’s suicidal ideation and self-harming behaviours than sexual abuse or physical violence. The implications of these findings for practitioners working with children and youth involve raising awareness about the long-term effects of verbal, physical, sexual, and witnessed abuse.