DENMARK: Parents’ Psychiatric Disease Linked to Kids’ Risk of Suicide Attempt, Violent Offending

September 23, 2016

News Type:  Weekly Spark, Weekly Spark News


According to a study recently published in JAMA Psychiatry, parental history of mental illness is associated with an increased risk of suicide attempts and violent offending among children. Using data from a large Danish cohort, researchers examined the relationship between a range of parental psychiatric disorders and offspring suicide attempts and violent offending. They found that the risks of suicidal and violent behavior among children were elevated across virtually the entire scope of parental psychiatric disease, with the most significant increases associated with diagnoses of antisocial personality disorder, cannabis misuse, and prior suicide attempt. The authors stated, “The similarities in relative risk patterns observed for both adverse outcomes indicate that self-directed and interpersonal violence may have a shared etiology.” However, they cautioned that their findings were limited by potentially confounding variables, such as parental criminal history and experience of abuse, which they were unable to adjust for in their analysis. “Psychiatrists and other professionals treating adults with mental disorders and suicidal behavior should consider also evaluating the mental health and psychosocial needs of their patients’ children,” they concluded. “Early interventions could benefit not only the parents but also their offspring.”

Spark Extra! Read the full research study.