Family History Linked to Suicide Risk: Study
Fri Oct 11,10:45 AM ET

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - People with a family history of suicide and mental illness are more likely to attempt suicide than their peers with no such family history, according to Danish researchers.

The findings could prove useful in suicide prevention programs targeting adolescents and young adults, the authors of the study note.

Researchers from Aarhus University studied the family histories of 4,262 people between the ages of 9 and 45 who committed suicide and a group of "controls," 80,238 people in the general population who did not commit suicide.

People who had a parent, sibling or other close relative commit suicide were found to be more than twice as likely to commit suicide than others with no family history of suicide. Likewise a family history of mental illness increased a person's risk for committing suicide by about 50%, report the study's lead author Dr. Ping Qin and colleagues.

The findings are published in the October 12th issue of the journal The Lancet.

Past research has linked suicide risk to a family history of substance abuse, depression, antisocial behavior, personality disorders and violent behavior.

In this study, Qin and colleagues reported that even after adjusting for socioeconomic factors, relatives of a suicide victim or those with mental illness still had higher rates of suicide completions than relatives of controls.

"We conclude that inclusion of familial suicidal history in the assessment of suicide risk is important, even though people with a family history of suicide are only a small proportion of the total number of people who commit suicide," Qin and colleagues write.

SOURCE: The Lancet 2002;360:1126-1130.

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