Children who experience parental death are at increased risk of mental illness, depression, and suicide, but new research by UConn’s Human Development and Family Sciences researchers can help surviving parents. It is clarified whether it is useful for. Reduces the risk of suicide in vulnerable youth.
“Researchers have been studying suicide for decades,” said Na Zhang, an assistant professor and lead author of the new study. “But there is still no good way to predict suicide. Suicidal ideation, Or suicidal behavior. I know some related factors. But overall, the predictability isn’t as high as we would like. “
Zhang’s research published in the journal Development and psychopathologyWe investigated an unexpected reduction in the risk of suicide for a parent’s bereaved family when the surviving parent or caregiver participated in the Family Bereaved Family Program (FBP). This is an evidence-based intervention originally developed by the REACH Institute at Arizona State University and now available to local institutions. A second version of the provider, known as Resilience Parenting for Bereaved Families.
“This intervention itself is not a suicide prevention program,” explains Zhang. “It focuses on helping the bereaved parents do the hard work of providing effective parenting while they are sad.”
The initial FBP included 12 group-based sessions consisting of separate groups for caregivers and children and two family sessions, all of which deal with the loss of surviving parents and parents of children. The focus was on supporting a person’s childcare skills and needs.
After six and fifteen years of follow-up, program developers found that the risk of suicide among young people in participating families was significantly reduced, and Zhang wanted to understand why.
“Imagine you have a medicine or medicine and want to treat a cold or a physical illness or illness,” she says. “I know these pills are useful in treating illness, but I want to know how these pills work. What are the effects on the body, what are the chains of effects, and I want to know what biological or chemical changes occur, which can lead to the results you prefer. “
She continues. “The purpose of the intervention was to prevent mental health problems, including internalization problems such as depression and anxiety, but it was also to externalize problems such as aggression and behavioral problems. Suicide and suicide risk. There was no specific intervention strategy for mitigation. This is called upstream suicide prevention — the risk of suicide by focusing on child-rearing and child coping in the early stages of development and later in life. It will be reduced. I was really interested in how this upstream preventive intervention would have such a long-term effect, to reduce the risk of suicide. “
Through secondary data analysis, Zhang revisited information from baseline and post-test tests and 11-month, 6-year, and 15-year follow-ups of 156 families who participated in the program. The sample included families whose parents died 4 to 30 months ago, their children were 8 to 16 years old, and their families were not currently receiving other mental health services.
Zhang has tested six different factors called mediators. Researchers hypothesized that these factors may be associated with a reduced risk of suicide in adolescents with caregivers participating in the program.
“The mediator can be called the“ active ingredient ”of this intervention,” she explains.
She found that two mediators, a decrease in aversive self-esteem and an increase in the child’s active connection to parents, were associated with upstream parenting and a reduced risk of suicide downstream. .. Decreased levels of self-esteem, control of what happens in one’s world, and reduced disgust, which points to a sense of personal identity, were particularly prominent in the data as important effects of the program.
The impact of aversive self-views on the risk of suicide was first hypothesized by a theoretical paper proposing that suicide comes from the need for people to escape this kind of negative emotion towards themselves. This is the first study to discover that reducing aversive self-esteem through a program six years ago is actually part of the path to the effectiveness of a program that reduces the risk of suicide.
“For the surviving parents randomized to the program, I found that their parenting was improved, and that improved parenting led to a reduction in the number of young people who reported aversive or negative self-views. We know, “says Zhang. “They reported that there were few negative views on the relationship between themselves and their world, which was associated with a reduced risk of suicide. More interestingly, these two active ingredients (self-view and). Combined with caregiver connections), the aversive self-view remained statistically significant. Therefore, this concept of self-view considers whether this intervention can reduce the risk of suicide in the long run. It shows that it is a very important intervention target that we want to consider when. “
According to her, this study is the first to show that causally induced parenting changes have had a series of positive effects on adolescents of their parents’ bereaved families, including a reduced risk of suicide.
“This paper is also the first to show that parenting leads to a series of positive events that lead to a reduced risk of suicide,” says Zhang. Youth suicide risk. Here we show that these aversive self-views are a very important route to explain how parenting can help reduce the risk of suicide. “
Zhang has a more systematic way to access suicidal risk and needs further research to distinguish suicidal ideation that could not be evaluated due to the limitations of the analyzed data from suicidal ideation or attempted suicide. It states that.
Her research also focused on parenting globally, without delving into the individual aspects of parenting (discipline, protection, sensitivity, guided learning, etc.). This can explain why other mediators she hypothesized may also be “active ingredients,” such as complex condolences.It explained the effect of the program to reduce suicide Risk of youth of parent’s bereaved family.
“The takeaway message here is that it is important for researchers to identify possible risk or protective factors for adolescents. Risk of suicide, Suicidal ideation, or suicidal behavior. This allows you to design and reduce more targeted interventions to address these factors in your program. dangerous“And what we found here is that these self-views seem to be really relevant,” says Zhang.
Na Zhang et al, Reducing Suicide Risk in Parental Bereaved Adolescents by Promoting Effective Parenting: Testing the Developmental Cascade Model, Development and psychopathology (2021). DOI: 10.1017 / S0954579421001474
University of Connecticut
Quote: Parenting Improvements for Bereaved Children (December 9, 2021) Obtained from https: //medicalxpress.com/news/2021-12-parenting-youth-suicide-combating-negative on December 9, 2021 ) Reduced youth suicide risk by fighting negative self-views.html
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