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Alcoholic Parents Boost Suicide Risk By 85 Percent

Update Date: May 06, 2014 08:43 PM EDT

Growing up with an alcoholic parent may increase the risk of suicide by 85 percent, according to a new study.
Researchers also found that growing divorced parents increased by 14 percent the risk that a person would try to take his or her own life when compared to people whose parents did not divorce.
However, having alcohol and divorce parents don't increase the risk of suicide attempts.
"These findings underscore the need for comprehensive client and family assessments by clinicians to identify people in particular need of early interventions," lead author Dana Alonzo, PhD, of Columbia University, said in a news release. "Individuals whose parents were divorced or abused alcohol might be more vulnerable for suicide than those from intact or nonalcoholic households. Prevention and treatment efforts need to target groups that are accurately identified as at risk."
The study involved data from 43,093 people 18 years old or older in the 2001-2002 Department of Health and Human Services survey. Overall, 13,753 participants reported they were diagnosed with depression at some point in their life and of those, 1,073 said they had tried to commit suicide.
Of those who reported attempting suicide, 25 percent said they had parents who divorced and 46 percent said one or both parents abused alcohol.
Researchers believe more children with alcoholic and divorced parents may not have more of a suicide risk because divorce may have decreased hostility at home and therefore didn't contribute to a child's becoming a maladjusted adult.
"Or, it may be that children with an alcoholic parent are not as surprised when their parents split up because they have already witnessed so much conflict, so it may not lead to as much confusion and resentment as it might in a better-functioning family," Alonzo said.
The findings are published in the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry.

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