According to a new study, children of people with mood disorders who have attempted suicide are more likely to try to take their own lives as well. The link is especially strong among those who have been exposed to sexual abuse and women who suffer from mood disorders themselves.
Research has shown people with a family history of suicide are at increased risk of committing suicide, but few studies have looked at the factors that put people at especially high risk. Researchers from the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic and St. Francis Medical Center in Pittsburgh studied the offspring of two groups: people with mood disorders who had attempted suicide and people with mood disorders who had not attempted suicide.
The analysis included 170 children of the suicide attempters and 107 of the nonattempters. All were assessed by investigators, who did not know which group they came from, for various factors that could lead to suicidal behavior, including mood disorders, suicide attempt history, impulsive aggression, and exposure to family stress.
Results showed children of the suicide attempters had a six-fold higher risk of suicide attempts when compared to the children of the nonattempters. Eighty-two percent of the suicidal behavior seen in the offspring occurred in the context of a mood disorder, and suicide was also linked to increased impulsive aggression and substance abuse.