Does Child Abuse Cause Suicide

Recently I came across a blog by Ed Yong, February 22, 2009 from Discover Magazine. The blog is about the relationship of suicide in later life for victims of child abuse. The blog says the trauma of child abuse can last a lifetime, leading to a higher risk of suicide, anxiety and depression. This link seems obvious, but a group of Canadian scientists have found that it has a genetic basis. It was found that child abuse modifies a gene called NR3C1 that affects a person’s ability to deal with stress. A normal person’s body automatically limits a stress reaction whereas for the victim of childhood abused stress levels go though the roof at any provocation leaving the person at much higher levels of stress than a normal person.

As a child I knew my parents wished I didn’t exist. I spent my childhood terrified of my father’s beatings and threats. My mother would urge him on. To this day I can hear her calling him knowing what he would do to me. I remember the expression on her face as she called him.

Yet the funny thing was that I loved them. I figured they didn’t love me because I wasn’t lovable and I always tried to make them happy. By the time I was six I would come home from school and clean the house and make dinner every night. I didn’t rebel. I think I hoped they would love me if I just did it well enough. I can’t remember a compliment on my work. Eventually I knew they weren’t going to love me and after doing the dishes at night I would go to my room and listen to the radio. They never sought me out for my company with the rest of the family.

My first suicide attempt was at 12 years old. I had several more attempts in my teen years. My parents told me I would never amount to anything. Funny when I was 16 I had the highest IOWA test scores in the state. The school started to look into my life and my parents were more constrained. I graduated from high school just before my seventeenth birthday and left home.

The odd thing was that I did well in my professional life. When I left my parents home I put myself through UCLA in mathematics by waiting tables. After I graduated I had a good career in the new field of computers. Eventually I started a business which I ran for many years.

Having been raised in an atheistic family which believed in social Darwinism I always wished there was a God. At 39 I finally believed in Christ. I finally had something that was rock strong. I began as a Catholic and have tried other churches. Finally I am at peace that I can read the Bible and know God. I learned kindness to others and while that often doesn’t turn out well I have learned I am not responsible for other people’s reactions. Many events and people contribute to helping others.

I believe that what I have gone through has meaning but that only God knows it and perhaps I will know it too someday.

One odd thing I found out in the last few years of my mother’s life is the reason she could never love me was because I had brown eyes. The evils of Social Darwinism at work.

One thought on “Does Child Abuse Cause Suicide

  1. You will find some meaning in some things and perhaps never find it in others. Keep looking!! I relate to so many of the things you share here. Did you see my blog yesterday about my struggles with mental illness? I have a read a lot about the connections to genetics and abuse as well. Keep writing. It has been the best thing I have ever done.

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