Children Who Run Away from Home: Risks for Suicidal Behavior and Substance Misuse
These authors examined the extent to which running away from home as a child is associated with behavioral problems and victimization during childhood and with suicidal behavior and substance abuse during early adulthood. They used data for a subsample of individuals aged 16-34 years (n = 2,247) from a larger survey of psychiatric morbidity in England. Respondents were asked about running away from home; physical, emotional and sexual abuse as children; and suicidal behavior and alcohol and drug dependence in early adulthood. About 7 percent of respondents reported running away from home before age 16, with higher rates in females than in males. Overall, 45.3 percent reported being bullied, 25.3 percent experienced violence at home, and 8.8 percent reported unwanted sexual intercourse. Runaways were far more likely than other children to have suffered victimization and family difficulties and to exhibit behavioral problems. Adults who reported running away from home were three times more likely than other adults to have thought about or attempted suicide, but the relationship with substance abuse was far less pronounced. Modified Author Abstract.