Friday, March 17, 2023

1 in 5 Deaths by Suicide Related to Intimate Partner Problems

One in five deaths by suicide is related to problems with current or former intimate partners such as divorce, separation, romantic breakups, arguments, jealousy, conflicts, and intimate partner violence, a study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine has found.

Ayana Stanley, Dr.P.H., of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Division of Violence Prevention and colleagues analyzed data from the National Violent Death Reporting System for 402,391 adults who died by suicide between 2003 and 2020. They compared the circumstances leading up to suicide deaths related to intimate partner problems with suicide deaths not related to intimate partner problems.

People whose suicide deaths were related to intimate partner problems compared with those who were not had greater odds of the following:

  • 6.5 times the odds of having experienced interpersonal violence.
  • 4.1 times the odds of having arguments with others such as family, friends, and associates.
  • 2.7 times the odds of having a history of suicidal thoughts.
  • 2.2 times the odds of interpersonal violence victimization.
  • 2.1 times the odds of having a depressed mood.
  • 2.0 times the odds of having financial problems.
  • 2.0 times the odds of having problematic alcohol use.
  • 1.6 times the odds of having recent legal problems.

Aside from problematic alcohol use, there was no significant difference between the two groups regarding problematic substance use.

“[T]he present study underlines the increased association of mental health problems among suicide decedents specifically experiencing [intimate partner problems] compared to those who did not. A partner relationship marked by interpersonal conflict and violence may contribute to or exacerbate mental health problems. Conversely, mental health problems may also contribute to difficulties experienced within an intimate partner relationship,” Stanley and colleagues wrote.

“Additionally, experiencing an acute adverse life event (like deciding to divorce or experiencing intimate partner violence) could contribute to an impulsive suicide attempt among individuals who did not previously have a suicide plan,” the researchers continued. “Thus, monitoring by clinicians, mental health providers, and the helpful connectedness of … family and friends of non-suicidal individuals encountering severe adverse life events is paramount.”

For related information, see the Psychiatric Research & Clinical Practice article “Recent Stressful Experiences and Suicide Risk: Implications for Suicide Prevention and Intervention in U.S. Army Soldiers.”

(Image: iStock/Marta Nogueira)

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