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Keywords:

  • suicide attempts;
  • treatment-refractory depression;
  • parental rejection;
  • parental neglect;
  • attachment

Objective:  To examine the hypothesis that lifetime suicide attempts in a sample of depressed individuals is greater among those who remember their parents as rejecting or neglecting in childhood.

Method:  Database analyses of patients referred to a public hospital Mood Disorders Unit in Sydney, over a consecutive 10-year period. Patients met DSM-IV criteria for depression, had completed a self-report questionnaire regarding perception of parental rearing, and had responded to a probe question assessing lifetime suicide attempts (= 343).

Results:  Female patients who perceived themselves as rejected/neglected by either parent in childhood had a greater chance of making at least one lifetime suicide attempt. No such associations were found for males.

Conclusion:  Perception of rejecting/neglectful parents was associated with lifetime suicide attempts in females only, inviting research explicating any such gender specificity.