Suicide attempts higher among children of opioid users

  • Brent DA & al.
  • JAMA Psychiatry
  • 22 May 2019

  • International Clinical Digest
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Takeaway

  • Suicide attempts were twice as high among children aged 10-19 years whose parents used prescription opioids for more than a year compared with those with parents who did not use prescription opioids.
  • Children of parents who used opioids also had higher rates of depression, substance use disorder (SUD), and opioid use disorder (OUD), but the rate of suicide attempts remained high after adjusting for these factors.

Why this matters

  • Clinicians treating parents who have long-term prescription opioid use should include mental health screening of the parents’ children.

Study design

  • Pharmacoepidemiologic study of 148,395 children aged 10-19 years between 2010 and 2016.
  • Funding: NIH.

Key results

  • In propensity score-matched analysis, children of parents with 1-year prescription opioid use showed higher rates of suicide attempts vs those whose parents did not use opioids (11.68 vs 5.87 per 10,000 person-years; OR, 1.99; 95% CI, 1.71-2.33).
  • The association remained significant after adjusting for parent SUD/depression and child age, sex, depression, OUD, and SUD (OR, 1.46; 95% CI, 1.24-1.72).
  • Children of parents who used opioids had higher rates of: 
    • depression (7.3% vs 3.3%; P<.001>
    • SUD (2.3% vs 0.8%; P<.001 and>
    • OUD (0.4% vs 0.1%; P <.001>

Limitations

  • Nonprescription use of opioids was not known.

Coauthored with Antara Ghosh, PhD