Parental Depression and the Severity of Adolescent Suicide Ideation and Behavior: A Test of a Mediation Model

Hohler, Alisa
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University of Delaware
An extensive literature has implicated parental depression in child and adolescent psychopathology (Downey & Coyne, 1990). However, less is known about the mechanisms through which parental depression affects the adolescent. The current study tested parental attitudes toward conflict discussions with their adolescent as a potential mechanism linking parental depression to adolescent suicide severity in a sample of 65 adolescents and their parents. Parental attitudes (punitive, abdicating, or supportive) were measured using self-report ratings of emotion attitudes and reactions immediately before and after a videotaped conflict discussion with their adolescent. I hypothesized that parental depression would be associated with punitive, abdicating, and less supportive parental attitudes, and that these attitudes would also be associated with an increase in adolescent suicide severity. Results indicate that parental depression was associated with adolescent’s suicidal thoughts and behavior. Of the three parental attitudes, only parental abdication was associated with the severity of adolescents’ suicide ideation and behavior. Additionally, the relationship between parental depression and adolescent suicide severity is partially accounted for when parents report an attitude of abdication and withdrawal toward conflict discussions with their adolescent. The findings suggest that parental abdication may lead to withdrawal from the parenting role and force the adolescent to maintain the relationship, reducing his/her ability to use the parent as a resource (Lyons-Ruth et al., 2013; Lyons-Ruth, Bureau, Holmes, Easterbrooks, & Brooks, 2013).
Research Subject Categories::SOCIAL SCIENCES::Social sciences::Psychology , Pyschology