“Understanding Why Adoptees Are At Higher Risk For Suicide”

Talking about suicide is hard and uncomfortable. Talking about it in connection with adoption–which often has much joy but is more complex than people realize–is challenging. And we need to talk, and keep sharing information and resources.

I am pleased to share with you my article “Understanding Why Adoptees Are At Higher Risk For Suicide,” published today by Forefront, a University of Washington collaboration of the UW School of Social Work, UW Communication, UW School of Nursing, and UW College of Education.

My three main points in the article are these:

Adoption is a trauma.

Adoptees often don’t know their medical histories, which may include depression and other illnesses.

Adoptees don’t want to upset their adoptive parents with concerns about depression or what could be seen as ingratitude.

I know people I love more than words can say who have considered. and attempted, suicide. I do not presume to speak specifically for them in my writing, because their stories are theirs to tell–or not.  Because of my experiences, and because of hearing about the suicides (or attempts) of adoptees, I have felt compelled to speak out. I hope other voices, especially those of adoptees themselves, will come forward as well and be welcomed, even as we struggle together.

This is a clarion call to adoption agencies and organizations to make suicide awareness and prevention–especially as it relates to adoptees–a fundamental part of their training and adoption-related services. I mean no disrespect to birth/first mothers, fathers, and family members, as they also have genuine struggles. My focus here, however, was on adoptees.  I have heard just this week about 2 12-year-olds, boys, Ethiopian adoptees, in different states, who committed suicide in August. I heard recently from an adoptee of the Baby Scoop Era, now in her 50’s, who has struggled with suicidal thoughts for decades.

September is National Suicide Prevention Month. September 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day. Please read, learn, share, and speak out.

My thanks to Forefront for publishing my article.

May we all find healing and hope, and reasons to live.



12 thoughts on ““Understanding Why Adoptees Are At Higher Risk For Suicide”

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  4. Reblogged this on Letters to Ms. Feverfew and commented:

    It’s National Suicide Prevention Week 2015 here in the US and this is difficult reading for me. Why?

    Because I unknowingly put my daughter at a four-fold risk of suicide. What mother in their right mind would do that???? How is THAT supposed to be a blessing, dear LDS church? What about increased risk for suicide is “about love”?

    This adoption truth would have been a game changer for me. I would have never relinquished her for adoption. I was promised she would grow up whole and happy because she had the magic elixir of Mormondom – two parents who were sealed in the temple. It was supposed to be the secret sauce that protected her depression and low self-esteem, among many other things.

    But I was lied to.

    And she suffered.

    So yes, this is difficult, but necessary reading.

  5. not playing it down but have there been comparisons against children raised in out pf home care and/or been subjected to family abuse and violence. Some time we naturally look at our own kind but we should also look at others who may have had a similar back ground. As a aside a study fund that musicians were four times more likely to suicide than the rest of the population as well.

  6. Reblogged this on The adopted ones blog and commented:

    Please read this post, then go to the full article linked, read that, then read the study (you can even open the full study instead of just reading the abstract). We can’t pretend this isn’t real, please don’t question methodologies of the study in an attempt to downplay it (all adoptees in the study were placed in the adoptive homes under the age of two, 87% of the international adoptees were adopted from Korea, the domestic adoptees also placed under the age of two)…

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