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Push for shared parenting can aid in reducing suicide rates for teens


September 28, 2018


Suicide Prevention Awareness Month offers opportunity to reflect on ability to limit negative impact on children dealing with divorce of parents

During Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, the National Parents Organization strongly favors policies and programs that protect youth from the effects a parental separation or divorce and are, therefore, at greater risk of suicide attempts.

The Lancet, a weekly peer-reviewed journal, found in a 2003 study that children in single-parent households are more than twice as likely to be at risk of suicide attempts. According to federal statistics, children raised by single parents and without regular and consistent contact with the other loving, fit parent, accounts for 63 percent of teen suicides.

“Research shows that a parental separation or divorce can lead to complex emotions for young children,” said Petra Maxwell, Executive Director for National Parents Organization. “By giving children the opportunity to continue positive, loving relationships with both parents, and allowing children to talk about their feelings can be very important for dealing with the aftereffects. NPO supports legislation that awards shared and equal, or near equal, custody by both fit parents in order to ensure a positive and nurturing environment for children.”

These risks extend throughout a family affected by divorce.

The University of California-Riverside conducted a study examining marital status and suicide and found that the risk of suicide among divorced men was more than double that of married men, and divorced men are as much as eight times more likely to attempt or commit suicide than divorced women, overall.

Research from sociology professors at the University of California suggests that many suicides of divorced men result from the separation between father and child. This same relationship severance can create a difficult strain on children.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there was a 24 percent increase in suicides in the United States in the 15 years between 1999 and 2014, and suicide remains the second-leading cause of death for youth in the age range of 12 to 18.

The CDC reports that each day there is an average of 3,041 suicide attempts from high-school aged children, and 8.6 percent of youth in a 2015 Youth Risk Behaviors survey reported at least one suicide attempt in the 12-month period preceding the outreach.

As the divorce rate in America has grown to about 50 percent in recent decades, suicide rates among youth has also grown.

“Our society needs to do all that it can to protect the best interest, health and wellbeing of our children, including those whose parents are unfortunately divorced or separated,” Maxwell said. “Considering millions of children are impacted by divorce each year and our family courts place them in single parent homes in nearly 80 percent of cases, our children deserve to have the system re-evaluated especially given the alarming suicide statistics regarding those raised in single-parent/sole-custody households.”

National Parents Organization, a charitable and educational 501 (c)(3) organization, seeks better lives for children through family law reform that establishes equal rights and responsibilities for fathers and mothers after divorce or separation. The organization is focused on promoting shared parenting and preserving a child’s strong bonds with both parents, which is critically important to their emotional, mental, and physical health. National Parents Organization released the Shared Parenting Report Card, the first study to rank the states on child custody laws, and in 2017, National Parents Organization hosted the International Conference on Shared Parenting, bringing in research scholars from 18 countries to share their results on shared parenting. Visit the National Parents Organization website at

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