Sept 1982

Parental Loss and Family Stability in Attempted Suicide

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychological Medicine, Christchurch (New Zealand) Clinical School of Medicine (Drs Adam and Bouckoms) and the Department of Psychiatry, McMaster University and Medical Centre, Hamilton, Ontario (Dr Streiner). Dr Adam is now with the Department of Psychiatry, McMaster University. Dr Bouckoms is now with the Department of Consultation-Liaison, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1982;39(9):1081-1085. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1982.04290090065013

• Ninety-eight persons who had attempted suicide were compared with 102 matched controls for the incidence of parental loss and family stability before the age of 25 years. Parental loss was significantly more common in the attempted suicides than in the controls, especially death of the father and divorce or separation of parents, reaching peaks during the age periods of 0 to 5 years and 17 to 20 years. The women within this group had experienced significantly more loss from parental death than did the men. Among attempted suicides, there was also a high incidence of family instability, whether or not a loss had occurred. The degree of instability, however, was significantly less among those from intact homes. Suicidal ideation was strongly correlated with family instability in both groups.