Teenagers who feel their parents seldom express any sort of interest in their emotional welfare have increased chances of getting suicidal thoughts than than youths who see their parents as involved, U.S. researchers. The study was conducted by a team of researchers at the University of Cincinnati, Ohio (UC).

As part of the study, UC professors Keith King and Rebecca Vidourek did an analytical follow-up to the data which was presented by the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, which provided state and national level data on the usage of tobacco, alcohol and other illegitimate drugs-involving non-medical use of prescription drugs-and mental health in the U.S.

The report, published by the University  in its website Tuesday, stated that there is a noteworthy connection between parent’s behaviors and thoughts of suicide among adolescents. The UC professors also discussed the findings of the study at a presentation at the 2017 American Public Health Association conference in Atlanta.

According to the new findings, children between the age group of 12 and 17 are more probable to think, plan and attempt suicide if their parents don’t display behavior which makes them believe that they care for them. 

King, who is the coordinator of UC’s health promotion and education doctoral program and also the director of the Center for Prevention Science, said, “Kids need to know that someone’s got their back, and unfortunately, many of them do not. That’s a major problem .”

The report also stated that those most affected by parenting behaviours were 12- and 13-year-olds. Children in this age group, whose parents never or rarely told them they were proud of them were nearly five times more likely to have suicidal thoughts, nearly seven times more likely to formulate a suicide plan and about seven times more likely to attempt suicide than their peers.

In a similar manner, children of the same age group, who were never helped by their parents with their home works or were never told that they did a good job were at high risk for suicide.

“Parents ask us all the time, ‘What can we do?’,” King said, adding, “You can tell them you’re proud of them, that they did a good job, get involved with them, and help them with their homework.”

Vidourek, who is the co-director of the Center for Prevention Science said, “A key is to ensure that children feel positively connected to their parents and family.”

The report also said that, suicidal behavior amidst high-school teens, though lower than among 12- and 13-year-olds, was still significantly high when their parents remain emotionally uninvolved with them. This might be a result of their coping mechanisms which they use to tackle the lack of emotional engagement from their parents. Some of the coping mechanisms include high-risk sexual behaviors or drug abuse.

“It follows through consistently, regardless of gender, regardless of race — it’s all across the board,” King said.

“Youth perceptions are extremely important to suicidal ideation and attempts,” King said in a report by Agence France-Presse, a French international news agency.

“Sometimes parents think they are involved, but from the perspective of the adolescent, they are not." King also said as to how can parents prevent their children from suicide by stating, “Direct communication and direct interactions that are authoritative in nature between the parent(s) and the adolescent,” he added.

However, the UC report did not talk about the completion of the suicidal thoughts or plans and it only discussed tendencies and whether the children thought about ending their own lives.

The Agence France-Presse report further stated that U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found, earlier in 2017 that the rates of suicide among teenage girls had doubled from 2007 to 2015 while it increased to 30 percent among boys.

The report also said that according to experts, there are a range of factors which might contribute to suicide. They include depression, negative elements on social media, bullying, financial turmoil and exposure to violence.

In a recent case of suicide, a 13-year-old Rosalie Avila, from Southern California attempted suicide by hanging herself in her bedroom Tuesday. She was taken off from life support Monday. Avila’s parents said the incident occurred because her daughter was the “victim of bullying.”