Parental Mental Illness in Childhood as a Risk Factor for Suicidal and Self-Harm Ideations in Adults Seeking Help for Tinnitus and/or Hyperacusis

Am J Audiol. 2019 Sep 13;28(3):527-533. doi: 10.1044/2019_AJA-18-0059. Epub 2019 Jun 11.


Purpose The aim of this study was to explore the relationship between parental mental illness in childhood with suicidal and self-harm ideations in adults seeking help for their tinnitus and/or hyperacusis. Method This was a retrospective, cross-sectional study. The data for 292 consecutive patients who attended a Tinnitus and Hyperacusis Therapy Specialist Clinic in the United Kingdom were included. Results Forty-six of 292 patients, or 15.75% of the patients, expressed that they have been bothered by suicidal and self-harm ideations within the last 2 weeks. Furthermore, 38.7% of the patients (113/292) reported that, while they were growing up during the first 18 years of life, their parent(s) were suffering from a mental illness. Logistic regression analysis showed a significant relationship between suicidal and self-harm ideations and the history of parental mental illness after adjusting the model for (a) tinnitus disability as measured via the Tinnitus Handicap Inventory (Newman, Jacobson, & Spitzer, 1996), (b) hyperacusis as measured via the Hyperacusis Questionnaire (Khalfa et al., 2002), (c) anxiety as measured via the Generalized Anxiety Disorder Questionnaire (Spitzer, Kroenke, Williams, & Löwe, 2006), (d) depression as measured via the Patient Health Questionnaire (Kroenke, Spitzer, & Williams, 2001), and (e) age and gender. Adjusted odds ratio was 2.5 (95% CI [1.14, 5.6], p = .022). The only other variable that was significantly related to the risk of suicidal and self-harm ideations was depression; adjusted odds ratio was 7.7 (95% CI [2.6, 26.3], p = .001). Conclusions Clinicians who offer tinnitus and hyperacusis rehabilitation should screen for suicidal and self-harm ideations among patients, especially for those with symptoms of depression and a childhood history of parental mental illness. Patients with suicidal and self-harm ideations should be referred to mental health services for further diagnosis and treatment.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anxiety / epidemiology
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Child of Impaired Parents / psychology*
  • Child of Impaired Parents / statistics & numerical data
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Depression / psychology
  • Female
  • Help-Seeking Behavior
  • Humans
  • Hyperacusis / epidemiology
  • Hyperacusis / psychology*
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders*
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Health Questionnaire
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Self-Injurious Behavior / psychology*
  • Suicidal Ideation*
  • Tinnitus / epidemiology
  • Tinnitus / psychology*
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology
  • Young Adult