In the May 2010 issue of The Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the results of a large study at John Hopkins Children’s Center reveals that the suicide rate in children and adolescents who have a parent who also commited suicide is much higher. These children and adolescents also have a much higher rate of suffering from psychiatric disorders.
“Losing a parent to suicide at an early age emerges as a catalyst for suicide and psychiatric disorders,” says lead investigator Holly C. Wilcox, Ph.D., a psychiatric epidemiologist at Hopkins Children’s. “However, it’s likely that developmental, environmental and genetic factors all come together, most likely simultaneously, to increase risk.”
In the United States, each year, between 7,000 and 12,000 children lose a parent to suicide, the researchers estimate.
The current study looked at the entire Swedish population over 30 years, making it the largest one to date to analyze the effects of untimely and/or sudden parental death on childhood development.
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