The Kids Aren't Alright

Adult children of divorce at higher risk of suicidal thoughts

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Children of divorced parents may exhibit suicidal tendencies later on in life, according to a recent study by the University of Toronto in Canada.

The idea that divorce affects more than just the parents is proving to be very true, with the experience of divorce having long-term, residual effects in adults. A study from the University of Toronto says that adults whose parents divorced when they were children are more likely to have suicidal thoughts than people whose parental unit remains intact.

These odds are especially true for men, who report having had thoughts of suicide three times more often than men whose parents are not divorced. Adult women showed an 83 percent higher likelihood. Thoughts of suicide were substantially more common in individuals who experienced added childhood stress like physical abuse and parents who were addicts.

The authors of the study conclude that men may display more suicidal tendencies due to the lack of a father-figure in some cases. Previous studies have found that not having a father-figure as a role model for boys leads to "adverse developmental outcomes."

Esme Fuller-Thomson, lead author, asserts that the study is in no way meant to cause panic in parents who are going through a divorce with children involved. The findings do not mean that all children of divorced parents are "destined to become suicidal."

The research will be compared with other data in the future in order to confirm their hypotheses and determine if any public health recommendations need to be encouraged.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
January 26, 2011
Last Updated:
January 26, 2011