Year: 2000 Source: Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, v.54, no.4, (April 2000), p.254-261 SIEC No: 20000186

The U.S. National Longitudinal Mortality Study, 1979-1989 was used to estimate the effects of marital status on death from suicide. For the entire sample, higher risks of suicide were found in divorced than in married persons. Divorced and separated persons were over twice as likely to complete suicide as married persons. Being single or widowed had no significant effect on suicide risk. When data were stratified by sex, it was observed that the risk of suicide among divorced men was over twice that of married men. Among women, however, there were no statistically significant differentials in the risk of suicide by marital status categories. In conclusion, marital status, especially divorce has a strong net effect on mortality from suicide, but only among men. Men were nearly 4.8 times as likely to complete suicide than women, while African Americans were 61% less likely to complete suicide than whites. Individuals with household incomes between $5,000 and $9,999 were 47% more likely to complete suicide than others. The author recommends that physicians should educate men about the risk of suicide following a divorce or separation, and encourage them to seek counselling.