Though it has long been proved that suicidal behavior runs in families, a research team at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, PA analyzed the reasons behind these tendencies being passed on from one generation to another. The findings of the study which have now been published on the journal JAMA Psychiatry now specify that attempts to suicide by either of the parents increases the odds of suicidal tendencies in offspring fivefold.
Nearly 1 million people across the United States inflict intentional harm on themselves every year, some among them intending to end their lives as well. Findings of an earlier study published in Medical News Today (in 2012) had found that young ones were more likely to attempt suicide within two years of their parents attempting to end their own lives.
The researchers in this new study wanted to find out what exactly leads to suicidal behavior running in families. David A Brent and other co-authors who were a part of the research team studied and observed 701 children (aged 10 to 50 years) of 334 parents with mood disorders for an average of nearly six years each. 191 children of such parents had also attempted suicide later.
The team found that 44 (6.3%) of the 701 children had attempted suicide prior to the study, while 29 (4.1%) made a suicide attempt during study follow-up. Of these, 19 (65.5%) made a first-time suicide attempt.
“Impulsive aggression was an important precursor of mood disorder and could be targeted in interventions designed to prevent youth at high familial risk from making a suicide attempt, but it did so by increasing the risk of the subsequent development of a mood disorder, which in turn increased the risk of an attempt.
The transition from impulsive aggression to mood disorder may be particularly salient to understanding recurrent suicidal behavior because this pathway from offspring suicide attempt at baseline to an attempt at follow-up was mediated by offspring impulsive aggression and mood disorder.”
Having observed offspring of parents with suicidal tendencies closely, Dr. Brent and other co-authors have recommended interventions which help keep impulsive aggression under check, particularly among families where suicidal tendencies are high.