Suicide Prevention

Alcoholic Parents? Adult Offspring 85% More Likely to Commit Suicide

Adults with a parent who abused alcohol may be 85% more likely to attempt suicide than those without parents who abused alcohol, according to new research. Furthermore, children of divorced parents have a 14% higher risk of suicide as compared to individuals whose parents are still together.

Note: Having divorced parents who also abused alcohol did not increase suicide risk.

Primary Care and Suicide Prevention
Divorce Doesn't Always Lead to Depression

Researchers analyzed data from 43,093 participants 18 years or older who were interviewed by the Department of Health and Human Services between 2001 and 2002.

Of the overall sample, 2.4% reported lifetime suicide attempts, 16% noted parental divorce, 21.3% reported parental alcohol abuse, and 6% reported that parents both abused alcohol and divorced.

In total, 13,753 reported depression and 1073 said they attempted suicide.

Of those who reported attempted suicide, 25.4% said they had divorced parents and 46% said one or both parents abused alcohol.

Researchers noted that perhaps parental divorce accentuated already-present conflict in families with parental alcohol abuse.

“To have a greater impact on reducing the overall number of suicide attempts that occur yearly in the United States, prevention and treatment efforts need to target groups that have been accurately identified as at risk,” the authors wrote.

Pooja Shah


Alonzo D, Thompson R, Stohl M, Hasin D. The influence of parental divorce and alcohol abuse on adult offspring risk of lifetime suicide attempt in the United States. Am J Orthopsych. 2014;84(3):316-320.

American Psychological Association. Adults at higher risk of suicide attempt if parent abused alcohol, research finds [press release]. 2014 May 6. Accessed May 12, 2014.