Experience of being abused in an institution could lead to anxiety over receiving nursing home care in later life, writes MICHELLE McDONAGH
SURVIVORS OF institutional abuse in Ireland may be at a higher risk of suicidal behaviour if they need to receive nursing home care as many will in later life, according to the National Suicide Research Foundation (NSRF).
Director of research at the NSRF, Dr Ella Arensman, explained that the experience of being abused in an institution had led to huge anxiety among survivors regarding the possibility of receiving nursing home care in later life.
This fear of what might happen to them as they grow older must be given appropriate consideration as a risk factor for suicidal behaviour among survivors, she said.
Dr Arensman said that people who went through the industrial schools were more likely to have been cut off from their parents and siblings and so are more likely to end up in nursing homes.
She highlighted the need for those working in the primary care and nursing home sectors to be aware of the specific difficulties and needs of this not insignificant group.
Although Dr Arensman has been involved in research into the link between institutional child abuse and suicidal behaviour since 2005, with Dr Martina ORiordan, she said they were overwhelmed at the extent and severity of the abuse revealed by the Report of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse.
Their research, which was commissioned by the National Office for Suicide Prevention, has found that long-term effects among survivors of institutional child sexual abuse included social isolation, alcohol and/or drug abuse, depression, post traumatic stress disorder and suicidal behaviour.
In our study, we came across people who 30 or 40 years later can only sleep with the light on.
They fear the dark because a lot of the abuse went on at night-time and they still have nightmares. Many have struggled to build up some level of independence which they did not have for an average of 16 years while they were institutionalised.