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J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2011 Feb;52(2):176-83. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7610.2010.02298.x. Epub 2010 Oct 29.

Young people's risk of suicide attempts in relation to parental death: a population-based register study.

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Department of Political Science, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark.



The objective of this study was to examine the association between the death of a biological parent and subsequent suicide attempts by young people (aged 10-22 years), and to explore sociodemographic factors as modifying factors in the process.


The study used a nested case-control design. The full study population was obtained from the Danish longitudinal registers and included all individuals born between 1983 and 1989 (n = 403,431 individuals). The 3,465 registered suicide attempters from that group were matched with 75,300 population-based control subjects. Potentially confounding variables including age and gender were controlled for by conditional logistic regression analyses.


The findings indicated that young people who had lost one biological parent showed a significantly increased risk of attempting suicide (relative risk = 1.71, 95% confidence interval = 1.49-1.96). Losing the remaining parent nearly doubled the risk (relative risk = 2.7, 95% confidence interval = 1.48-5.06).


Experiencing the death of one or both biological parents increased the risk of suicide attempts in young people. Relative risk was moderated by high income of the father.

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