Context: Suicide bereavement remains understudied and poorly understood. Objectives: To examine outcomes of parents bereaved by the suicide death of their offspring and to compare these with both nonbereaved parent controls and parents who had offspring die in a motor vehicle crash (MVC). Design: Population-based case-control study. Suicide-bereaved parents were compared with nonbereaved matched control parents in the general population (n=1415) and with MVC-bereaved parents (n=1132) on the rates of physician-diagnosed mental and physical disorders, social factors, and treatment use in the 2 years after death of the offspring. Adjusted relative rates (ARRs) were generated by generalized estimating equation models and adjusted for confounding factors. Setting: Manitoba, Canada. Participants: All identifiable parents who had an offspring die by suicide between 1996 and 2007 (n=1415). Main Outcome Measures: Mental and physical disorders, social factors, and treatment use. Results: Suicide bereavement was associated with an increased rate of depression (ARR, 2.14; 95% CI, 1.88-2.43), anxiety disorders (ARR, 1.41; 95% CI, 1.24-1.60), and marital breakup (ARR, 1.18; 95% CI, 1.13-1.23) in the 2 years after the suicide of an offspring, as compared with the 2 years prior to the death. Suicide-bereaved and MVC-bereaved parents had very few differences on predeath to postdeath outcomes. Depression rate increases were greater for MVC-bereaved parents (19.9%) compared with suicide-bereaved parents (15.9%; P=.005), whereas suicide-bereaved parents had higher rate increases of hospitalization for mental illness (P=.049). Suicide-bereaved parents were more likely than their MVC-bereaved counterparts to have depression (ARR, 1.30; 95% CI, 1.06-1.61), physical disorders (ARR, 1.32; 95% CI, 1.19-1.45), and low income (ARR, 1.34; 95% CI, 1.18-1.51) before their offspring's death. Conclusions: Suicide bereavement is associated with adverse mental health and social outcomes. These consequences appear similar to those associated with MVC bereavement. Parents who lose offspring to suicide appear to be a vulnerable group even prior to their offspring's death.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Psychiatry and Mental health