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Maternal or paternal suicide and offspring's psychiatric and suicide-attempt hospitalization risk

S Janet Kuramoto, Elizabeth A Stuart, Bo Runeson, Paul Lichtenstein, Niklas Långström, Holly C Wilcox
Pediatrics 2010, 126 (5): e1026-32
20956422

OBJECTIVE: We examined whether the risk for psychiatric morbidity requiring inpatient care was higher for offspring who experienced parental suicide, compared with offspring of fatal accident decedents, and whether the association varied according to the deceased parent's gender.

METHODS: Children and adolescents (0-17 years of age) who experienced maternal (N = 5600) or paternal (N = 17,847) suicide in 1973-2003 in Sweden were identified by using national, longitudinal, population-based registries. Cox regression modeling was used to compare psychiatric hospitalization risks among offspring of suicide decedents and propensity score-matched offspring of accident decedents.

RESULTS: Offspring of maternal suicide decedents had increased risk of suicide-attempt hospitalization, after controlling for psychiatric hospitalization for decedents and surviving parents, compared with offspring of maternal accidental decedents. Offspring of paternal suicide decedents had similar risk of suicide-attempt hospitalization, compared with offspring of accident decedents, but had increased risk of hospitalization attributable to depressive and anxiety disorders. The magnitude of risks for offspring suicide-attempt hospitalization was greater for those who experienced maternal versus paternal suicide, compared with their respective control offspring (interaction P = .05; offspring of maternal decedents, adjusted hazard ratio: 1.80 [95% confidence interval: 1.19-2.74]; offspring of paternal decedents, adjusted hazard ratio: 1.14 [95% confidence interval: 0.96-1.35]).

CONCLUSIONS: Maternal suicide is associated with increased risk of suicide-attempt hospitalization for offspring, beyond the risk associated with maternal accidental death. However, paternal suicide is not associated with suicide-attempt hospitalization. Future studies should examine factors that might differ between offspring who experience maternal versus paternal suicide, including genetic or early environmental determinants.

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