Year: 2020 Source: Translational Psychiatry. (2020). 10:173. SIEC No: 20200488

We examined the extent to which genetic factors shared across generations, measured covariates, and environmental factors associated with parental suicidal behavior (suicide attempt or suicide) account for the association between parental and offspring suicidal behavior. We used a Swedish cohort of 2,762,883 offspring born 1973–2001. We conducted two sets of analyses with offspring of half- and full-siblings: (1) quantitative behavior genetic models analyzing maternal suicidal behavior and (2) fixed-effects Cox proportional hazard models analyzing maternal and paternal suicidal behavior. The analyses also adjusted for numerous measured covariates (e.g., parental severe mental illness). Quantitative behavior genetic analyses found that 29.2% (95% confidence interval [CI], 5.29, 53.12%) of the intergenerational association was due to environmental factors associated with exposure to maternal suicidal behavior, with the remainder due to genetic factors. Statistical adjustment for parental behavioral health problems partially attenuated the environmental association; however, the results were no longer statistically significant. Cox hazard models similarly found that offspring were at a 2.74-fold increased risk [95% CI, 2.67, 2.83]) of suicidal behavior if their mothers attempted/died by suicide. After adjustment for familial factors and measured covariates, associations attenuated but remained elevated for offspring of discordant half-siblings (HR, 1.57 [95% CI, 1.45, 1.71]) and full-siblings (HR, 1.62 [95% CI, 1.57, 1.67]). Cox hazard models demonstrated a similar pattern between paternal and offspring suicidal behavior. This study found that the intergenerational transmission of suicidal behavior is largely due to shared genetic factors, as well as factors associated with parental behavioral health problems and environmental factors associated with parental suicidal behavior.