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Young people’s risk of suicide attempts in relation to parental death: a population-based register study

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The objective of this study was to examine the association between the death of a biological parent and subsequent suicide attempts by young people (aged 10–22 years), and to explore sociodemographic factors as modifying factors in the process. Methods: 

The study used a nested case–control design. The full study population was obtained from the Danish longitudinal registers and included all individuals born between 1983 and 1989 (n =403,431 individuals). The 3,465 registered suicide attempters from that group were matched with 75,300 population-based control subjects. Potentially confounding variables including age and gender were controlled for by conditional logistic regression analyses. Results: 

The findings indicated that young people who had lost one biological parent showed a significantly increased risk of attempting suicide (relative risk = 1.71, 95% confidence interval = 1.49–1.96). Losing the remaining parent nearly doubled the risk (relative risk = 2.7, 95% confidence interval = 1.48–5.06). Conclusion: 

Experiencing the death of one or both biological parents increased the risk of suicide attempts in young people. Relative risk was moderated by high income of the father.
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Keywords: Suicide attempt; adolescence; epidemiology; parental loss; risk and protection factors

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Political Science, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark 2: Clinic of Suicide Prevention and Treatment, Odense University Hospital, Odense, Denmark

Publication date: February 1, 2011

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