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J Nerv Ment Dis. 2009 Dec;197(12):899-904. doi: 10.1097/NMD.0b013e3181c299ac.

Parental divorce, parental depression, and gender differences in adult offspring suicide attempt.

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  • 1Graduate School of Social Work, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027, USA.


Research suggests parental divorce during childhood increases risk of suicide attempt for male but not female offspring. The negative impact on offspring associated with parental divorce may be better explained by parental psychopathology, such as depression. We examined whether adult offspring of parental divorce experience elevated risk of suicide attempt, controlling for parental history of depression, and whether the risk varies by the gender of the offspring. Using the 2001 to 2002 National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC), the sample consists of respondents who experienced parental divorce (N = 4895). Multivariable regressions controlled for age, race/ethnicity, income, marital status, and parental history of depression. Females living with their fathers were significantly more likely to report lifetime suicide attempts than females living with their mothers, even after controlling for parental depression. Findings suggest that childhood/adolescent parental divorce may have a stronger impact on suicide attempt risk in female offspring than previously recognized.

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