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Research Paper Example: Suicidal Thoughts in Adolescent with Divorced Parents

6 pages
1404 words
Boston College
Type of paper: 
Research paper
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Adolescent suicide is one of the leading concerns in most health care in all western countries. It is one of the three major causes of death worldwide among youths younger than 25 years. On a broader perspective, there is a widespread phenomenon of attempted suicide; its prevalence is about 7.8% in the United States and 10.5% in Europe. The highest attempted suicide rate recorded was between the ages of 15-24 years (Orri & Paduanello, 2014). The rate of suicide attempts among teenager with divorced or broken families is more prevalent than those in stable families. A family may influence a persons behavior either positively or negatively in both childhood and adulthood. In cases where an intact family where the mother and father have a functioning breaks up, the child can be affected largely. A functional family I beneficial to the child unlike the broken one, Family separation is a huge cause of child neglect, which causes the child to result in deviant behavior (Ghosh, 2016).

Literature Review

Orri & Paduanello, (2014) researched that teenagers of divorce have seriously considered committing suicide than their peers with intact families. The study stated that suicidal ideation and divorce had a robust correlation especially in families where childhood stressors such as physical abuse, drug addiction, and parental unemployment had occurred. Regardless of the correlation, the study revealed that men who had experienced the same were twice as likely to commit suicide than their female counterparts or men in intact families. This association was extraordinarily strong; researcher believes that this occurrence might be because there is an absence of close contact with a father which may occur post-divorce.

Ghosh, (2016) reported that parental divorce might increase incidences of depression among adolescents. The experience is stressful for teens of any age, most of them exhibit behavioral issues and emotional distress. The study also revealed that a close relationship between children and their parents often influences their happiness, self-esteem, life, and satisfaction. The relationship among divorce families has low levels of affection and contact. Meta-analyses reveal that children with divorces homes function more poorly across various domains such as social relations, academic achievement and conduct problems (Winslow, 2004).


Teens with divorced parents have a higher possibility of attempting suicide or have suicidal ideation than those from intact family.

Qualitative Research Methods

Qualitative study involved two purposively selected adolescents who have been involved in suicidal acts. One participant was a female, 13 years old, living with her mother after a recent divorce while the male participant, 16 years old, was from a broken family that was on the edge of divorce and had little contact with the father. We employed in-depth interview techniques to obtain descriptions and meaning of interviewees life events. The unstructured interview method was applied to let the participants raise their views and perceptions, to uncover all the underlying problems as well as to get a broader picture of the participants (Nielsen, 2011). The participants were enrolled through a purposeful sampling strategy to ensure a variety of perspectives and views. The participants had volunteered and declared their willingness to participate and were capable of walking us through their experiences, they both did not have any mental disorder. Consent was obtained from both participants, and their anonymity was preserved.


Among the many other minor causes of suicidal attempts, family issues were the leading cause among the teenagers. Several factors such as family conflict, child-parent friction, and child neglect were among the significant subthemes. Marie*, the teenage girl expressed how her parents divorce and misunderstanding among her parent led her to drop out of school, depression and finally ended up attempting suicide by overdosing. The divorce, her depression, and suicidal attempt were correlated. I had to stay at my fathers place for a few weeks and then go to my mother's home again, it was traumatizing," she stated. Marie* complained that she preferred living with her mother permanently. However her identity card was at her father's place who refused to give it back to her, she also argued that her father did not support them financially which caused them to strain, but he was continually bringing up conflict whenever possible. The situation escalated led her to commit suicide.

The child-parent conflict was apparent in Jay's* case the male participant who stated that they were not in good terms with her mother. His father barely came home, and the two had a very distant relationship, he is also addicted to alcohol and becomes violent whenever he is drunk. Jay* stated that when he was a kid life was endurable, both parents were on good terms and his relationship with his parents was exceptional. However, an incident occurred that tore the family apart from the more he grew up, the wider the gap became. He argued that his mother have no respect for his autonomy; she controlled and limited everything he wanted to do. The friction between the two became intense which resulted in him to overdosing on tablets. He complained that his mother interferes in every detail of his daily life; she has the last say about his friends, his fun and everything else. I tried talking to my father but he gave me a deaf ear, he barely cares about any family affairs, he argued.


The above research reveals that negativity in adolescents lives, such as parental neglect, addiction, accelerates the likelihood of mental health problems. Whenever teenagers experience psycho-emotional problems, they might feel like committing suicide is the only way to escape the painful situations. It also reveals that addicted fathers have trouble creating an intimate relationship with their children. Conflict with parents causes problems such as despair and aggression. The research showed that participants were on the verge of a psycho-emotional breakdown CITATION Sha16 \l 1033 (Sharif & Molazem, 2016). It is justifiable to argue that the teenagers attempted suicide as a cry for help, as an appeal to communicate with their parents or the societal intervention. Our findings were consistent with previous work. The results are correlated with other literature work. The experience of suicidal acts is primary a solitary event that causes one to lose meaning in life, therefore, results in an easy way out. If these teens lack support from their parents, they become devastated, if their parents are the cause of their devastation they end up losing the meaning of life.


The primary limitation of this study was the small sample size; hence, the study does not have sufficient statistical power to give a general overview of all suicide attempts among teenagers from divorced parents. However, from a qualitative point of view, the research finding can be applied to conduct a more comprehensive research.


This study focused on the family aspect of adolescents' suicidal ideation. Many factors have been identified. However, the main factors are a poor family structure where the parents are divorced, and parental relationships are positively correlated with suicidal attempts. Further study is required to determine if changes in the family issues can lead to a decreased suicidal ideation among the troubled adolescents. The evidence that family functioning is correlated to the well-being of children and adolescents is overwhelming. It is, therefore, reasonable to expect significant changes in the childs behavior in cases where the bond weakens. This often results in psychological effects on the well-being of the adolescents and children. A high divorce rate in any society will result to higher suicidal rates among teens. The link between parental divorce and teenage suicide rates have been more apparent in literature in recent years; the children are triggered by the thoughts that their parents have rejected them; the weakening bonds among the family members as well as the loss of contact escalate this situation with some parents. The situation needs to be addressed carefully, and the affected teens should be given adequate attention to cab the situation.



Ghosh, S. M. (2016, May). Prevalence of problem behavior among adolescents of divorced parents. International Journal of Advanced Education and Research, 1(5), 26-28.

Nielsen, R. (2011). Cues to quality in quantitative research papers. Family and Consumer Sciences Research Journal, 40(1), 85-89.

Orri, M., & Paduanello, M. (2014). Qualitative approach to attempted suicide by adolescents and young adults: The (neglected) role of revenge. (F. Harris, Ed.) Public Library of Science, 9(5), 54-60.

Sharif, F., & Molazem, Z. (2016, July). The effect of paternal addiction on adolescent suicide attempts: A qualitative study. International Journal of High-Risk Behaviors and Addiction, 5(3).

Winslow, E. (2004). Preventative interventions for children of divorce. Psychiatric Times.


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