Friday, April 23, 2010

Losing parents and children's mental health

Children who lose a parent to suicide are more likely to commit suicide themselves and are also at a greater risk of other mental-health problems. Researchers from the Johns Hopkins Children's Center in Baltimore looked at suicides, psychiatric hospitalisations and violent-crime convictions over a period of 30 years in more than 500,000 Swedish children, teenagers and young adults who had lost a parent to suicide, illness or an accident and four million who hadn't. They found that those children who lost a parent to suicide as children or teenagers were three times more likely to kill themselves than children with living parents although there was no increase in risk for children who were eighteen or over when their parent committed suicide. Children whose parents had died in an accident were twice as likely to kill themselves as unaffected children but again the differences disappeared when children were older when they were bereaved. Children who lost a parent to illness did not have an increased risk of suicide. Children who lost parents to suicide were nearly twice as likely to be hospitalised for depression whereas those who lost their parents to accidents or illness had a 30-40% greater risk. Losing a parent for whatever reason increased a child's risk of committing a violent crime.

You can find out more about this research at

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