Human Nature

, Volume 17, Issue 2, pp 190–211

Parent-offspring conflict and cost-benefit analysis in adolescent suicidal behavior

Effects of birth order and dissatisfaction with mother on attempt incidence and severity

DOI: 10.1007/s12110-006-1017-8

Cite this article as:
Andrews, P.W. Hum Nat (2006) 17: 190. doi:10.1007/s12110-006-1017-8


Data on birth order and parent-offspring relations for 1,601 adolescents participating in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health were used to test hypotheses about the role of adolescent suicidal behavior in parent-offspring conflict. Among adolescents highly dissatisfied with their mothers, the odds that middleborns would make at least one suicide attempt was 23% that of first- and lastborns (p<.001), but their odds of receiving medical treatment for their attempts was 8.5 times greater than the odds for first- and lastborns (p=.032). The results are tentatively interpreted as supporting the hypothesis that adolescents use suicide attempts to leverage investment from their parents.

Key words

Add Health Adolescents Attempted suicide Birth order Blackmail Cost-benefit analysis Parent-offspring conflict 

Copyright information

© Transaction Publishers 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Virginia Institute of Psychiatric and Behavioral GeneticsRichmond