Suicide-bereaved children and adolescents: A controlled longitudinal examination

Julie Cerel, Mary A. Fristad, Elizabeth B. Weller, Ronald A. Weller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

108 Scopus citations


Objective: The current study examined emotional and behavioral sequelae in children who have experienced parental suicide by completing a secondary analysis of data from the Grief Research Study, a longitudinal study of childhood bereavement. Method: Twenty-six suicide-bereaved (SB) children, aged 5 to 17 years, were compared with 332 children bereaved from parental death not caused by suicide (NSB) in interviews 1,6, 13, and 25 months after the death. Children's emotional reactions to the death, psychiatric symptomatology, and psychosocial functioning after the parent's death were determined. Results: Grief emotions were common in both groups. SB children were more likely to experience anxiety, anger, and shame than NSB children. SB children were more likely to have preexisting behavioral problems and more behavioral and anxiety symptoms throughout the first 2 years compared with NSB children. Indices of depression, suicidality, and psychosocial functioning differed minimally between groups. Conclusions: SB children experience some 'common' elements of bereavement. In addition, they demonstrate some lifetime risk factors as well as subsequent pathology that suggests a negative behavioral trajectory. As these cohorts have not yet passed through the age of risk, long-term follow-up is critical.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)672-679
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1999

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Accepted December 29. 1998. Ms. Cere! is a doctoral student in the Department of Psychology. The Ohio State University, Columbus. Dr. Fristad is Associate Professor. Departments o( Psychiatryand Psychology, The Ohio State Uniuersity, Columbus. Dr. E. Weller is Professor. Department of Psychiatry. The Universitv o( Prnnsyluania. Philadelphia. and Chairperson, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Childrens Hospital of Philadelphia. Dr. R. Weller is Professor. Department of Psvchiatrv, The University of Pennsylvania. Philadelphia. Supported by NIMH grants I ROI MH44JJ5 and I ROI MH45534. Reprint requests to Dr. Fristad, Suite 460 Neuropsychiatric Facility. 1670 Upham Drive, Columbus, OH 43210. 0890-8567/99/3806-0672iD1999 by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psycbiarry.


  • Bereavement
  • Suicide
  • Survivor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'Suicide-bereaved children and adolescents: A controlled longitudinal examination'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this