Year: 1998 Source: American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, v.6, no.4, (Fall 1998), p.328-334 SIEC No: 20010751

Using the psychological autopsy method, the authors sought to determine whether widowed people who commit suicide more than 4 years after their spouse’s death (n=21) can be clinically distinguished from those who commit suicide after a shorter period of widowhood (n=14). The latter had a higher rate of psychiatric treatment, early loss/separation, & a nonsignificantly higher rate of lifetime substance abuse. Spousal bereavement increases the likelihood of physician visits so the recently bereaved represent a population for whom interventions may be readily implemented. Clinicians should monitor suicide risk in their recently widowed patients, espcially those with psychiatric, substance abuse, &/or early loss/separation histories. (34 refs.)