BACKGROUND: 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.
METHODS: 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.
RESULTS: 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).
CONCLUSION: 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.