Depression among Parents Two to Six Years Following the Loss of a Child by Suicide: A Novel Prediction Model.

08 Jun 2018

BACKGROUND: Parents who lose a child by suicide have elevated risks of depression. No clinical prediction tools exist to identify which suicide-bereaved parents will be particularly vulnerable; we aimed to create a prediction model for long-term depression for this purpose. METHOD: During 2009 and 2010 we collected data using a nationwide study-specific questionnaire among parents in Sweden who had lost a child aged 15-30 by suicide in years 2004-2007. Current depression was assessed with the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) and a single question on antidepressant use. We considered 26 potential predictors assumed clinically assessable at the time of loss, including socio-economics, relationship status, history of psychological stress and morbidity, and suicide-related circumstances. We developed a novel prediction model using logistic regression with all subsets selection and stratified cross-validation. The model was assessed for classification performance and calibration, overall and stratified by time since loss. RESULTS: In total 666/915 (73%) participated. The model showed acceptable classification performance (adjusted area under the curve [AUC] = 0.720, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.673-0.766), but performed classification best for those at shortest time since loss. Agreement between model-predicted and observed risks was fair, but with a tendency for underestimation and overestimation for individuals with shortest and longest time since loss, respectively. The identified predictors include female sex (odds ratio [OR] = 1.84); sick-leave (OR = 2.81) or unemployment (OR = 1.64); psychological premorbidity debuting during the last 10 years, before loss (OR = 3.64), or more than 10 years ago (OR = 4.96); suicide in biological relatives (OR = 1.54); with non-legal guardianship during the child's upbringing (OR = 0.48); and non-biological parenthood (OR = 0.22) found as protective. CONCLUSIONS: Our prediction model shows promising internal validity, but should be externally validated before application. Psychological premorbidity seems to be a prominent predictor of long-term depression among suicide-bereaved parents, and thus important for healthcare providers to assess.