In Summary
  • The age group most affected by parenting behaviours were 12- and 13-year-olds.
  • Children in this age group who said their parents rarely or never told them they were proud of them were nearly five times more likely to have suicidal thoughts, said the researchers.
  • They were also nearly seven times more likely to formulate a suicide plan and about seven times more likely to attempt suicide than their peers.

Teenagers who feel their parents rarely express interest in their emotional well-being are far more likely to consider suicide than youths who say their parents are involved and proud of them, US researchers said Tuesday.

The findings by the University of Cincinnati come as the suicide rate among teenagers rises in the United States, adding to concern among parents, educators and health experts.

In the past month alone, a 10-year-old girl in Colorado and a 13-year-old in California have hung themselves. Their parents say bullying at school contributed to the girls' deaths.

"Parents ask us all the time, 'What can we do?'" said Keith King, who coordinates the University of Cincinnati's health promotion and education doctoral program.

"Kids need to know that someone's got their back, and unfortunately, many of them do not. That's a major problem."

King and his colleague, Rebecca Vidourek, based their findings on a 2012 national survey of people 12 and older that revealed a significant link between parental behaviours and thoughts of suicide among adolescents.

The age group most affected by parenting behaviours were 12- and 13-year-olds.

Children in this age group who said their parents rarely or never told them they were proud of them were nearly five times more likely to have suicidal thoughts, said the researchers.

They were also nearly seven times more likely to formulate a suicide plan and about seven times more likely to attempt suicide than their peers.

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