November 24, 2011

Using a Parent's Mental Health to Predict Suicide

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Reviewed by: 
Joseph V. Madia, MD By:

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Parental disorders provide insight in suicide prevention

(dailyRx News) Mental health disorders have become increasingly prevalent in our society, and suicide remains as a tragic end result of some untreated mental illnesses.  Researchers discovered an interesting connection between the two, its conclusions opening the doors for prevention.  

A recent study published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry examined how parental mental health disorders affect offspring, the severity depending on the disease. While all parental disorders showed increased suicide ideation in children, plans and action were most common in only a few.

"1 in 4 have a diagnosable mental health disorder. Treatment is recommended."

The study sought to link negative mood disorders to suicidal ideation, and also to link parental disorders with symptoms of anxiety, aggression, agitation, and impulsivity to suicide attempts. The analysis tested multiple associations between parental disorders and the distinct forms of suicidal behavior.

The results showed: 

  • Each parental disorder found to predict suicide ideation.
  • The children of parents with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and depression more commonly had reoccurring plans of suicide.
  • Antisocial personality disorder and anxiety disorders were the only predictors of the onset and persistence of suicide attempts in offspring.

W.H.O. collaborators also noted: "a dose-response relation between parental disorders and respondent risk of suicide ideation and attempt was found." In layman's terms, the exposure and severity of the parental disorder on the child makes a difference. Moreover, the report noted parental death by suicide to be a strong indicator of persistent suicide attempts.

The data was collected from face-to-face interviews with 55,299 participants. The participants encompassed national representative samples from 21 countries. 

Resources are available to predict the likelihood of future attempts and stop the problem before it starts, all while researchers continue to perfect its methodology. The study's author mentions: "these findings should inform future explorations of the mechanisms of intergenerational transmission of suicidal behavior."

According to the National Institute for Mental Health, suicide rated seventh in the nation for leading causes of death among men and fifteenth for women in 2007 and therapies exist, such as cognitive therapy, to reduce its risks over 50-percent.

Treatment is available to all of those with mental health issues. Talk with your doctor if experiencing anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, or any mental health-related issue.

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Reviewed by: 
Joseph V. Madia, MD
Review Date: 
November 21, 2011

Last Updated:
November 24, 2011