Suicide and mental illness in parents and risk of suicide in offspring: A birth cohort study

Holger J Sørensen, Erik L Mortensen, August G. Wang, Knud Juel, Leigh Silverton, Sarnoff A Mednick

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42 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: A family history of completed suicide and psychiatric illness has been identified as risk factors for suicide. AIMS: To examine the risk of offspring suicide in relation to parental history of suicide and other parental risk factors. METHOD: The study population consisted of 7,177 adult offspring born 1959-1961 and their parents from the Copenhagen Perinatal Cohort. Cohort members and their parents who had committed suicide were identified in the Danish Causes of Death Registry (follow-up until December 31, 2005), while information on psychiatric hospitalisation history was obtained from the Danish Psychiatric Central Research Register. RESULTS: Forty-eight cohort members, 77 mothers and 133 fathers had committed suicide during the follow-up. Independent of parental psychiatric illness and social status, parental suicide significantly increased suicide risk in offspring (hazard ratio 4.40 with 95% CI 1.81-10.69). A stronger effect of parental suicide was observed in offspring without a history of psychiatric hospitalisation. CONCLUSION: Parental history of suicide is a risk factor for suicide in offspring, but primarily in offspring without psychiatric hospitalisation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)748-751
Number of pages3
JournalSocial Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • adults
  • adult children
  • cause of death
  • children
  • child of impaired parents
  • cohort studies
  • Denmark
  • fathers
  • female
  • hospitalization
  • hospitals
  • psychiatric
  • male
  • mental disorders
  • mothers
  • registries
  • risk factors
  • sex factors
  • suicide


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