We asked whether adoption status represented a risk of suicide attempt for adopted and nonadopted offspring living in the United States. We also examined whether factors known to be associated with suicidal behavior would mediate the relationship between adoption status and suicide attempt.
Participants were drawn from the Sibling Interaction and Behavior Study, which included 692 adopted and 540 nonadopted offspring and was conducted at the University of Minnesota from 1998 to 2008. Adoptees were systematically ascertained from records of 3 large Minnesota adoption agencies; nonadoptees were ascertained from Minnesota birth records. Outcome measures were attempted suicide, reported by parent or offspring, and factors known to be associated with suicidal behavior including psychiatric disorder symptoms, personality traits, family environment, and academic disengagement.
The odds of a reported suicide attempt were ∼4 times greater in adoptees compared with nonadoptees (odds ratio: 4.23). After adjustment for factors associated with suicidal behavior, the odds of reporting a suicide attempt were reduced but remained significantly elevated (odds ratio: 3.70).
The odds for reported suicide attempt are elevated in individuals who are adopted relative to those who are not adopted. The relationship between adoption status and suicide attempt is partially mediated by factors known to be associated with suicidal behavior. Continued study of the risk of suicide attempt in adopted offspring may inform the larger investigation of suicidality in all adolescents and young adults.