Teen Suicide Linked to Family Moves

July 28th, 2009 | Sources: ABC News, Archives Gen'l Psychiatry

A study of children between the ages of 11 and 17 has revealed that suicide risk increases with the number of changes in residence.

howwillimakefriendsTo reach this conclusion, Ping Qin and colleagues from the University of Aarhus used data from Danish population registries to identify 120,000 children born in Denmark between 1978 and 1995.

Using other sources, they subsequently determined  that 4,160 of these people attempted suicide during adolescence. Seventy-nine completed the act.

The scientists then used logistic regression to demonstrate the increased risk of attempted and completed suicide associated with changes in home address. The more frequently the kids moved, the higher was the suicide risk.

Subjects that moved more than 3 times had twice the risk of suicidal behavior as those that stayed put throughout their early years. Those who moved more than 10 times experienced a four-fold bump in such risk.

The finding was not affected by year of birth, birth order, birthplace, age when the move took place, gender, presence of 2 parents, or parental age at birth.

“It’s understandable that a lot of moves increase people’s risk for suicide,” Nadine Kaslow, the chief psychologist at Emory University told ABC news. “Moving is all about losing things.”

But Kaslow cautioned that moving might be a marker for problems rather than the proximate cause of suicidal behavior. “There could be all sorts of other family stressors that are associated with moves,” she reasoned.

The write-up appears in Archives of General Psychiatry.

“It is always good to involve children in the process, motivating their participation in all decisions, plans and practical work,” wrote the authors.

Kaslow recommended having the children visit their new home and, after the move, their old one. But she added the vast majority of children do adjust. “Some kids are at increased risk, but many‚Ķdo just fine,” she told ABC News.


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