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J Clin Child Adolesc Psychol. 2011;40(6):807-17. doi: 10.1080/15374416.2011.614584.

Parental displacement and adolescent suicidality: exploring the role of failed belonging.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL 32306, USA.


Prior studies have demonstrated that events causing displacement from parents--such as parental death, abandonment of the adolescent, or divorce--represent a risk factor for adolescent suicide, but research to date has not established a theoretical model explaining the association between parental displacement and adolescent suicidal behavior. The current studies examined the construct of failed belonging proposed by the interpersonal theory of suicide as one factor that may link parental displacement with adolescent suicide. Study 1 found that low levels of belonging mediated the association between parental displacement and adolescent suicide attempts in a large, urban community sample of older adolescents between the ages of 18 and 23. In Study 2, parental displacement interacted with low belonging to predict suicide attempts, such that adolescents (average age = 16.6 years; SD = 1.2) who experienced both displacement and low levels of belonging had the highest risk for suicide.

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