Suicide Attempt Risk Doubles in Children if Parent Uses Opioids

Opioid use by a parent doubles the risk of a suicide attempt in children, according to a study published online in JAMA Psychiatry.

Over the past 15 years, the suicide rate among young people in the United States has increased dramatically, researchers pointed out, as has opioid use among adults.

“Until now, there has been little focus on the association between the increase in opioid use among adults and the risk of suicidal behavior by their children,” said study senior author Robert D. Gibbons, PhD, a biostatistics professor and director of the Center for Health Statistics at the University of Chicago in Illinois. “We theorized such a link was plausible because parental substance abuse is a known risk factor for suicide attempts by their children. In addition, depression and suicide attempts by parents—which are known to be related to suicidal behavior in their offspring—are more common among adults who abuse opioids.”