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November 1996

Parenthood, Completed Suicide, and Mental Disorders

Author Affiliations

National Public Health Institute Department of Mental Health Mannerheimintie 166 SF-00300 Helsinki Finland

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1996;53(11):1061-1062. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1996.01830110099016

A study by Hoyer and Lund,1 which was published in the Archives, reported a negative association between rates of suicide and number of children among women in Norway, suggesting that parenthood might have a protecting effect against suicide. The authors discuss the question of whether this protection is due to having children per se or by possible selection factors related to mental disorders. Ideally, differences in suicide risk related to parenthood could be estimated by controlling for specific mental disorders, but no such data have yet been reported.

Subjects and Methods.  In the National Suicide Prevention Project in Finland,2 all suicides (N=1397) committed in Finland between April 1,1987, and March 31,1988, were analyzed using the method of psychological autopsy. On the basis of the interviews of next of kin, 57% (651/1141) of suicide victims were reported to have had children. Those victims who had children were significantly older

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