Original Paper

Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology

, Volume 41, Issue 2, pp 95-102

First online:

Suicidal behaviour in national and international adult adoptees

A Swedish cohort study
  • Annika von BorczyskowskiAffiliated withDept. of Public Health Sciences, Division of Psychosocial Factors and Health, Karolinska InstitutetHamburg University of Applied SciencesNational Institute for Psychosocial Medicine Email author 
  • , Anders HjernAffiliated withCentre for Epidemiology, National Board of Health and WelfareDept. of Clinical Sciences, Huddinge University Hospital, Karolinska Institutet
  • , Frank LindbladAffiliated withDept. of Public Health Sciences, Division of Psychosocial Factors and Health, Karolinska InstitutetNational Institute for Psychosocial Medicine
  • , Bo VinnerljungAffiliated withCentre for Epidemiology, National Board of Health and WelfareInstitute for Evidence-Based Social Work Practice, National Board of Health and WelfareDept. of Social Work, University of Stockholm

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Abstract

Background

Previous studies have shown an elevated risk for suicidal behaviour in adolescent and young adult international adoptees. Comparisons between national and international adoptees in this respect have been inconclusive.

Methods

A total of 6,065 international adoptees were compared to 7,340 national adoptees and 1,274,312 non-adopted study subjects, all born between 1963 and 1973 and followed up until 2002 using the National Swedish Registers. Cox regression of person years was used in multivariate analyses to compare risks for suicide death and suicide attempt.

Results

International adoptees had clearly increased risks for suicide attempt (risk ratio 4.5 [95% confidence interval 3.7–5.5]) and suicide death (3.6 [2.6–5.2]) after adjustments for sex, age and socio-economic factors. National adoptees had lower risks than international adoptees, but had increased risks compared to non-adoptees (suicide attempt, 2.8 [2.2–3.5]; suicide death, 2.5 [1.8–3.3]). Biological parents' morbidity explained approximately one third of the increased risk for national adoptees. Female international adoptees' risk for suicide attempt was elevated to an even greater extent than in male international adoptees, when compared to the general population.

Conclusions

Clinicians should be aware that an increased risk for suicide and suicide attempts in international adoptees is a topic that is equally relevant to child and adult psychiatry.

Key words

international adoption national adoption suicide suicide attempt cohort study gender