Men, who have been sexually abused as children, are ten times more likely than women to consider taking their own lives, says a new study from University of Bath.
In the study involving Australian men, Dr Patrick O'Leary and Professor Nick Gould conducted a series of surveys and face-to-face interviews and found that who were sexually abused as children, were up to ten times more likely to have suicidal tendencies; many of these men had not been clinically diagnosed as depressed.
"Childhood sexual abuse is an under-recognised problem in men - most of the studies exploring the link with suicide have been in women," said Dr O'Leary said.
"Men are particularly vulnerable because they don't like to talk to others about their problems.
"It's difficult for anyone to come to terms with traumatic experiences such as childhood sexual abuse, but for men the stigma is worse because they don't tend to confide in their friends as much.
"Many suffer feelings of failure and isolation and think that it is a sign of weakness to discuss their past abuse with others. Men also tend to visit their doctors less frequently, so those who are at risk of suicide often slip under the radar of the healthcare system.
Dr O'Leary suggested that lives could be potentially saved if abuse victims are identified earlier.
"The abuse that these men have suffered as children often sees them attempting to cope by suppressing the experience through substance abuse, alcohol abuse and obsessive behaviour, with many ending up in the criminal justice system," he said.
"Greater awareness in the healthcare and criminal justice systems will help identify those who are at risk and give them treatment before it is too late," he added.
The findings have been published online in the peer-reviewed British Journal of Social Work.