Year: 2018 Source: Social Science & Medicine. (2015), 131, 181-189. SIEC No: 20190031

Early-life parental death (PD) may increase suicide and other mortality risk in adulthood. The potential implications of subsequent remarriage of the widowed parent (RWP) for suicide have not been well examined. Data came from the Utah Population Database for birth cohorts between 1886 and 1960, yielding a sample of N = 663,729 individuals, including 4533 suicides. Cox models showed PD was associated with increased adult suicide risk before age 50, and with increased risk of cardiovascular disease deaths (CVD) for adults of all ages. For females, RWP attenuated the suicide relationship before age 50 (though not statistically significant), but significantly exacerbated it after age 50. RWP had no significant impact for males. Further, for females, PD’s positive association with suicide was stronger than with CVD before age 50. These findings reinforce the importance of biological and social mechanisms in linking early-life stressors to adult mental and physical health.