RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—If searching for a new job in today’s competitive market has you contemplating making a move, consider this before you uproot your family: A Danish study found that children from families that frequently move are at an increased risk for suicide. And experts think if a similar study were conducted here in the U.S., the findings would be the same.
THE DETAILS: Researchers from the Centre for Register-Based Research at the University of Aarhus in Denmark looked at data on all of the children born between 1978 and 1995 in Denmark from four population registries. These sources provided information on how many times a child changed their address, and whether they ever attempted or completed suicide. The data showed that of the 4,160 children who attempted suicide between the ages of 11 and 17, 55.2 percent had moved more than three times, while only 32 percent of those who hadn’t attempted suicide had moved as often.
WHAT IT MEANS: Frequent address changes put psychological pressure on kids, which can put them at serious risk. These findings are not at all surprising, according to “We have long known of a relationship between mobility and suicide,” says Alan Berman, PhD, Executive Director of the American Association of Suicidology. Berman, who is not associated with the study done in Denmark, believes that if similar research were to be done on children here in the U.S., the findings would be very similar. This is because the reasons families often move—such as parental separation or divorce, job loss, or reduction of income—and also the effects of frequent moves—the loss of peer and support groups, loneliness, and the lack of a sense of belonging—all increase the risk of suicide. When a move is unavoidable, parents should be on the look out for the common signs of depression and suicidal tendencies: withdrawal, agitation, insomnia, impulsive or aggressive behavior, recklessness, dramatic mood changes, or an increased use of drugs or alcohol. “It’s very important to listen to your children with both your eyes and your ears,” adds Berman.