Parents Drank? You're More Likely to Commit Suicide

Sad but true.  Adults are at higher risk of suicide if one parent, or both, were alcoholics.

A new study has found that "People who grew up with a parent who abused alcohol may be 85 percent more likely to attempt suicide than people whose parents did not abuse alcohol, according to research published by the American Psychological Association," reports

Having divorced parents increased by 14 percent the risk that a person would try to take his or her own life when compared to people whose parents did not divorce, the study found. But having both -- parents who abuse alcohol and are divorced -- did not increase suicide attempts, according to the study.  One good thing!

In the study, almost 14,000 participants reported they had suffered major depression at some point in their life and of those, 1,073 said they had attempted suicide. In the group that reported attempted suicide, 25 percent said they had parents who divorced and 46 percent said one or both parents abused alcohol. From the full sample, 2.4 percent reported a suicide attempt, 16 percent reported their parents were divorced and 21 percent said at least one parent had abused alcohol.

As for why homes disrupted by a combination of divorce and drinking didn't lead to more risk of attempted suicides, the authors speculated that divorce may have decreased hostility at home and therefore didn't contribute to a child's becoming a maladjusted adult, the Web site notes. "Or, it may be that children with an alcoholic parent are not as surprised when their parents split up because they have already witnessed so much conflict, so it may not lead to as much confusion and resentment as it might in a better-functioning family," lead author Dana Alonzo, PhD, of Columbia University, said.

I grew up with an alcoholic parent and it was always hush-hush about it.  Even when this parent passed out at a big family celebration, we were warned not to talk about it.  My parents never divorced (they were married almost 61 years!), but the alcoholism led to all kinds of other disruptions and abuse in the family.  

Any way you look at it, alcohol or substance abuse in a family hurts more than just the person doing it. 


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