Offspring of Maternal Suicides at Risk for Suicide Attempt

Differences found between children of suicide decedents and accident decedents
By Monica Smith
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Oct. 18 (HealthDay News) -- Children who lose a mother to suicide appear to be at increased risk for suicide attempt-related hospitalization compared with children who lose a mother to a fatal accident, but this association doesn't hold for children who lose a father to suicide, according to research published online Oct. 18 in Pediatrics.

S. Janet Kuramoto, of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and colleagues analyzed data on 5,600 children up to the age of 17 who experienced maternal suicide, and 17,847 who experienced paternal suicide, to examine the risk of psychiatric morbidity in this population compared with those who lose a parent to fatal accident, and whether the association is affected by the parent's gender.

The researchers found a higher risk for suicide-attempt hospitalization in offspring of maternal suicides compared with those who experienced an accident-related maternal death. Those who lost a father to suicide had a similar risk of suicide-attempt hospitalization compared with those who experienced an accident-related paternal loss. Risk for suicide-attempt hospitalization was highest in those who experienced a maternal suicide.

"Maternal suicide is associated with increased risk of suicide-attempt hospitalization for offspring, beyond the risk associated with maternal accidental death. However, paternal suicide is not associated with suicide-attempt hospitalization. Future studies should examine factors that might differ between offspring who experience maternal versus paternal suicide, including genetic or early environmental determinants," the authors write.

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