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Does a Parents’ Divorce Lead to Suicide?

Family attorneys in Pasadena have long been aware of the effects a divorce can have on children. Now a new study suggests that kids from divorced homes are more likely to seriously consider suicide as adults than adults who grew up with intact families.

A study from the University of Toronto surveyed 6,647 adults including 695 who were still minors when their parents divorced. Men and women, the study found, reacted to divorce differently. Men whose parents divorced when they were children were three times more likely to have seriously considered suicide than men whose parents never divorced. Women from divorced parents were 83 percent more likely to have suicidal thoughts than women whose parents stayed married. The link between suicidal thoughts or suicidal ideation and divorce was strong for men who grew up in homes with parental addiction, physical abuse, and parental unemployment. Women who grew up without such issues were found not to be at risk for suicidal ideation. Even without additional stressors, according to the study, adults who were children when their parents split up still had an increased risk of suicidal thoughts.

Findings by researchers suggests "the pathways linking parental divorce to suicidal ideation are different for men and women. The association between parental divorce and suicidal thoughts in men was unexpectedly strong, even when we adjusted for other childhood and adult stressors, socioeconomic status, depression and anxiety," said lead author Esme Fuller-Thomson, in a university press release. "Females whose parents had divorced were not particularly vulnerable to suicidal ideation if they were not also exposed to childhood physical abuse and/or parental addictions," she said.

The study,which was published on January 19 online in the journal Psychiatry Research, is "not meant to panic divorced parents", Fuller-Thomson noted in the release. "Our data in no way suggests that children of divorce are destined to become suicidal."

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