Frequent change of residence and risk of attempted and completed suicide among children and adolescents

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2009 Jun;66(6):628-32. doi: 10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2009.20.


Context: In contemporary society, people change their place of residence frequently. However, large-scale population studies documenting the influence of frequent moves on mental health among children and adolescents are limited.

Objective: To evaluate the influence of frequent change of residence on risk of attempted and completed suicide among children and adolescents.

Design, setting, and participants: We used data from Danish longitudinal population registries to identify all children born from 1978 to 1995 in Denmark; 4160 of these children attempted suicide, and 79 completed suicide at ages 11 to 17 years. We adopted a nested case-control design and recruited 30 controls per case, matched individually on sex, age, and calendar time. Main Outcome Measure We used conditional logistic regression to compute the incidence rate ratio for attempted and/or completed suicide associated with the number of previous changes of residence.

Results: We observed a significantly increased risk of attempted suicide associated with changes of living address, and there was an apparent dose-response trend for this association-the more frequent incidence of moving, the higher the risk for attempted suicide. This trend remained the same after controlling for possible confounding factors at birth, ie, birth order, birthplace, link to a father, and parental age at birth. However, it was somewhat attenuated, but still significant, after controlling for the child's own psychiatric morbidity and loss of a mother or father, as well as parental psychiatric history. The observed association was neither modified by sex nor age at the time of moving. Further analyses of suicide completers demonstrated a similar association between change of residence and completed suicide.

Conclusions: Frequent change of residence may induce distress among children and, therefore, increase their risk of suicidal behavior. More research is needed to explore this association.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Denmark
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Population Dynamics*
  • Risk
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Suicide / psychology
  • Suicide / statistics & numerical data*
  • Suicide, Attempted / psychology
  • Suicide, Attempted / statistics & numerical data*