According to a new study by the University of Toronto, men and women who were children of divorce are more likely to commit suicide as adults. Men were found to have a higher incidence of suicidal tendencies than women. Men whose parents divorced when they were children were three times more likely to seriously consider suicide than men who grew up with both parents. Adult daughters of divorced parents were 83 percent more likely to have suicidal thoughts than those whose parents stayed married.
The study published online in the journal Psychiatry Research. University of Toronto researchers looked at 6,647 adults, including 695 who were younger than 18 when their parents divorced.
Lead author Esme Fuller-Thomson, of the faculty of social work and department of family and community medicine, explains “that the pathways linking parental divorce to suicidal ideation are different for men and women. The association between parental divorce and suicidal thoughts in men was unexpectedly strong, even when we adjusted for other childhood and adult stressors, socioeconomic status, depression and anxiety.”
She goes on to say that women whose parents had divorced were not particularly vulnerable to suicidal ideation if they were not also exposed to childhood physical abuse and/or parental addictions.
The research is “not meant to panic divorced parents,” she explains. “Our data in no way suggests that children of divorce are destined to become suicidal.”
While this study does not prove that children of divorce will suffer long-term problems, which is not always the case, it does raise some questions, particularly about how boys and girls express their feelings. Perhaps it suggests that girls do a better job at dealing with their feelings, or getting help, or talking through their hardships and consequently don’t build up feelings to the point of desperation. Regardless of gender, kids need to have a full support system so that when adversity occurs, they don’t feel alone, whether that challenge is divorce, death, sickness or any other thing that comes along the way. And boys need to be able to cry, to talk, and to let out their feelings whether they are toddlers, teens or even men.