The research referred to on the program was a study out of the Universty of Toronto (by Esme Fuller-Thomson and Angela Dalton) published in Psychiatry Research which "examined gender specific differences among a sample of 6,647 adults, of whom 695 had experienced parental divorce before the age of 18." So they were talking to adults about whether they had had suicidal thoughts, and comparing the incidence of those thoughts in people whose parents had divorced to the incidence in people whose parents had not divorced before age 18. Compared to men whose parents had not divorced, men whose parents had divorced were three times as likely to have had suicidal thoughts. That gap was markedly higher in men than in women.
The link between divorce and suicidal ideation was particularly strong
in families where childhood stressors like parental addiction,
physical abuse, and parental unemployment also occurred...even in the
absence of these childhood stressors, men who had experienced parental
divorce had twice the odds of having seriously considered suicide at
some point in their life compared to men from intact families...
“This study suggests that the pathways linking parental divorce to
suicidal ideation are different for men and women. The association
between parental divorce and suicidal thoughts in men was unexpectedly
strong, even when we adjusted for other childhood and adult stressors,
socioeconomic status, depression and anxiety,”says lead author Esme
Fuller-Thomson, Sandra Rotman Chair at U of T’s Factor-Inwentash
Faculty of Social Work and Department of Family and Community
Explanations for why men might be more negatively impacted by parental
divorce are varied. However, researchers believe it could be due to
the absence of close contact with a father which may occur
post-divorce. Previous studies have linked the loss of father-figures
with adverse developmental outcomes in boys. “It may be that the link
between parental divorce and suicidal ideation in men is mediated
through factors we cannot control for in our analyses such as
childhood poverty or parental depression, both of which are more
prevalent in divorced families,”says U of T masters graduate and study
co-author Angela Dalton.
Fuller-Thomson cautions that “these findings are not meant to panic
divorced parents. Our data in no way suggest that children of divorce
are destined to become suicidal.”
The link above summarized the results of the study in January 2011, before the article was actually published (May of 2011). The link has contact details for the authors. The full article citation follows. It is in the Elsevier database. Contact your local library to get a copy of the article - if they do not have access to the Elsevier database, they can get a copy of the article through interlibrary loan. The article itself cites a number of other articles, some of which may be relevant and which you can ask the librarian for as well. I have included a few of those citations below.
- Esme Fuller-Thomson, Angela D. Dalton, Suicidal ideation among individuals whose parents have divorced: Findings from a representative Canadian community survey, Psychiatry Research, Volume 187, Issues 1–2, 15 May 2011, Pages 150-155.
Further possible reading:
- Afifi et al., 2009. The relationship between child abuse, parental
divorce, and lifetime mental disorders and suicidality in a
nationally representative adult sample. Child Abuse & Neglect, 33
(2009), pp. 139–147.
- Chase-Lansdale et al., 1995. The long-term effects of parental
divorce on the mental health of young adults: a developmental
perspective. Child Development, 66 (1995), pp. 1614–1634.
- Cooney, 1994. Young adults' relations with parents: the influence of
recent parental divorce. Journal of Marriage and Family, 56 (1994),
- D'Onofrio et al., 2006. A genetically informed study of the processes
underlying the association between parental marital instability and
offspring adjustment. Developmental Psychology, 42 (2006), pp.
- Huurre et al., 2006. Long-term psychosocial effects of parental
divorce: a follow-up study from adolescence to adulthood. European
Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience, 256 (2006), pp.
- Jakupcak et al., 2003. Masculinity and emotionality: an investigation
of men's primary and secondary emotional responding. Sex Roles, 49
(2003), pp. 111–120.
- Jekielek, 1998. Parental conflict, marital disruption and children's
Social Forces, 76 (1998), pp. 905–936.
- Maccoby et al., 1993. Postdivorce roles of mothers and father in the
lives of their children. Journal of Family Psychology, 7 (1993),