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Parental Suicide Boosts Offspring Suicide By 500 Percent

Update Date: Dec 30, 2014 09:51 PM EST

Parents who attempt suicide may be increasing their children's risk to do the same by 500 percent.

Many studies have found that that a link between family and suicidal behavior. However, few have focused on the specific mechanisms by which suicidal behavior spreads among relatives.

The latest study involved 701 children between the ages of ten and 50 whose parents had mood disorders. Researchers noted that there were 334 parents, and 191 of those had a history of attempting suicide.

Study data revealed that 6.3 percent of offspring in the study had made suicide attempts before participating in the study, and 4.1 percent had attempted suicide during the study.

Further analysis revealed a direct effect of parent's suicide attempt on a suicide attempt by their child. The findings held true even after researchers accounted for factors like a history of previous suicide attempt by the offspring and a familial transmission of mood disorder.

"Impulsive aggression was an important precursor of mood disorder and could be targeted in interventions designed to prevent youth at high familial risk from making a suicide attempt," lead researcher Dr. David A. Brent, M.D., of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pennsylvania, and his team wrote in a study.

The findings are published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry

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