Parents influence their children in so many ways. According to a study, this influence extends to suicide attempts; most especially when a parent has a mood disorder and has attempted suicide themselves.
In a study published in JAMA Psychiatry, researchers noted that previous studies have already pointed out the possibility that suicide risk runs in the family, with young people likelier to attempt suicide in a period of two years after a parent’s suicidal attempt. However, David Brent, M.D. from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and colleagues wanted instead to explore what exactly causes suicidal behavior to run in a family.
To understand what leads to the hereditary link in suicidal behavior, the researchers worked with 334 parents, all with mood disorders, and 701 of their children between the ages 10 and 50. Out of all the parent subjects, 191 have attempted suicide before. The study followed the children for a period of 5.6 years on average, all of which completed self-reported questionnaires and structured psychiatric assessments to establish if mental disorders or suicidal behavior are present.
Out of the 701 children, 44 had already attempted suicide before the study began while 29 did so during the follow-up. Of the combined number of these attempts, 19 were made for the first time.
Taking into account previous suicide attempts and mood disorders being passed down, researchers discovered that children from parents who have previously attempted suicide are nearly five times likelier to try and take their lives.
Researchers were also able to spot an increase in the incidence of depression in the children as the study progressed, growing from 29.6 percent in the first two years to 48.2 percent at the end. This increase in depression might also be the reason for the increased number of attempted suicides by children with suicidal parents.
Interventions targeting impulsive aggression are recommended to reduce risks of suicide attempts in children from high-risk families, the researchers added.
In 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recorded 40,600 deaths due to suicides. That translates to someone committing suicide somewhere in the country every 12.9 minutes. With this kind of number, suicide is the top 10 cause of death in Americans.
Aside from Brent, study authors include: John Mann, M.D.; Satish Iyengar, Ph.D.; Jamie Zelazny, MPH, RN; Giovanna Porta, MS; Steve Ellis, Ph.D.;David Kolko, Ph.D.; John Keilp, Ph.D.; Candice Biernesser, LSW, MPH; Barbara Stanley, Ph.D.; Boris Birmaher, M.D.; Ainsley Burke, Ph.D.; Maria Oquendo, M.D.; and Nadine Melhem, Ph.D.