Adolescents who feel their parents rarely express interest in their emotional well-being are far more likely to consider suicide than youths who see their parents as involved, US researchers said Tuesday.
The findings by the University of Cincinnati come as the suicide rate among teenagers rises in the United States, adding to concern among parents, educators and health experts.
In the past month alone, a 10-year-old girl in Colorado and a 13-year-old in California hanged themselves. Their parents say bullying at school contributed to the girls’ deaths.
“Parents ask us all the time, ‘What can we do?’” said Keith King, who coordinates the University of Cincinnati’s health promotion and education doctoral program.
“Kids need to know that someone’s got their back, and unfortunately, many of them do not. That’s a major problem.”
King and his colleague, Rebecca Vidourek, based their findings on a 2012 national survey of people 12 and older that revealed a significant link between parental behaviors and thoughts of suicide among adolescents.
They found that those most affected by parenting behaviors were 12- and 13-year-olds.
Children in this age group who said their parents rarely or never told them they were proud of them were nearly five times more likely to have suicidal thoughts, said the researchers.
They were also nearly seven times more likely to formulate a suicide plan and about seven times more likely to attempt suicide than their peers.
An unusually high risk of suicide was also seen in 12- and 13-year-olds whose parents rarely or never told them they did a good job or helped them with their homework.
Among older teens, aged 16 and 17, those who said their parents rarely or never said they were proud of them were three times more likely to have suicidal thoughts – almost four times more likely to make a suicide plan and attempt suicide – than peers whose parents sometimes or often expressed pride in their children.–Agencies