2-Year Period After Parent's Suicide Try Most Risky for Children: Study

THURSDAY, Dec. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Teens are at highest risk for attempted suicide in the two years after a parent attempts suicide or is admitted to a psychiatric hospital, a new study suggests.

The study, by researchers in Sweden and Denmark, included more than 15,000 people who attempted suicide between the ages of 15 and 31. The patients were compared to a "control" group of age- and sex-matched people who had not attempted suicide.

The researchers pointed out that it is already well known that mental illness and suicidal behavior in parents is a risk factor for attempted suicide in their children.

The new study found, however, that young people had the highest risk of attempted suicide within the two-year period after a parent, particularly a mother, had attempted suicide. The study authors also noted that daughters, in particular, had a high risk of attempted suicide relatively soon after their mother was admitted to a psychiatric hospital.

The suicide risk in both such situations was higher among teens than among young adults, according to the study, which was published Dec. 12 in the online journal PLoS One.

"We show that young people, particularly teenagers, need support during a period immediately following the admission of a parent into care for mental disorders or suicidal behavior if their own attempted suicide is to be prevented," principal investigator Dr. Ellenor Mittendorfer-Rutz, a researcher in the department of clinical neuroscience at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, said in an institute news release.

"What's required, therefore, is effective cooperation between all actors, particularly the adult and child and adolescent psychiatric services," she added.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Mental Health has more about suicide.

SOURCE: Karolinska Institute, news release, Dec. 12, 2012

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