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Adolescence is a tough time, both for those going through it and for those who have to raise them. A new study has suggested that adolescent suicides have a strong correlation with parental bonds. Read below for more details.
Suicide is the third most common cause of death in adolescents worldwide. Studies have now begun to indicate that there is a direct correlation between parent-child relationships and the persistence of suicidal thoughts. However, it is not yet clear on whether this correlation points to suicidal thoughts or behaviour, which is crucial because thoughts are just thoughts, and behaviour indicates an attempt at suicide.
The research used two US-based samples: adolescent psychiatric patients and high school students. Parental bonding was divided into two categories: parental care and parental overprotection. The patients and students completed several questionnaires measuring parental care and overprotection, as well as other known suicide risk factors such as loneliness, emotional distress, and self-worth.
If there had been any doubt as to whether the nature of parental bonding has any effect on adolescent behaviour, this research seems to have quelled them. While we sometimes think that kids are their own people and they cannot be affected by parents, studies like this indicate that maybe parents have more control than they generally think they do.
Results indicated that adolescents with a history of suicide attempts reported lower parental care than non-suicidal adolescents and adolescents with a history of suicidal thoughts.
The other variables assessed – parental overprotection, loneliness, emotional distress and self-worth – were no different in those who made suicide attempts compared to those who only thought about suicide.
These findings indicate that caring parent-adolescent relationships reduce the likelihood that suicidal thoughts lead to suicide attempts. Therefore, increasing parental care might represent an important opportunity to reduce suicide risk in adolescents, especially in adolescents already experiencing suicidal thoughts.

Deepak Gopalakrishnan

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