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Last Updated: Friday, 15 April, 2005, 23:13 GMT 00:13 UK
Suicide 'link' between partners
Stress generic image
Men can find it particularly hard to talk about their feelings
The partner of a person who has committed suicide is significantly more likely to take their own life, researchers have found.

But men who had lost their partner to suicide were 46 times as likely to commit suicide themselves, three times the risk for women bereaved this way.

The UK's Samaritans said men were less likely to seek help for emotional problems, placing them more at risk.

The Danish study appears in the Journal of Epidemiology and Child Health.

A team from the University of Aarhus looked at data from the Danish national medical register on 475,000 people, comprising 9,000 people who had committed suicide aged 25 to 60, their partners and children, and a comparison group.

The researchers also looked at information on causes of death, admissions to psychiatric units, marital status, family size, and socio-economic factors.

Men find it more difficult to seek emotional help than women
Samaritans spokeswoman

They found that women whose partner had been admitted to a psychiatric unit for the first time within the preceding two years were almost seven times as likely to commit suicide as women with partners whose mental health was good.

This was almost double the risk of men in the same circumstances, who ran nearly a four-fold risk.

Parenthood 'protective'

Writing in the Journal of Epidemiology and Child Health, researchers led by Dr Esben Agerbo said: "Men might be less prone to seek help, choose more lethal methods, be more impulsively violent, inclined to substance abuse, and be more likely to have untreated or undetected mental illness."

When the researchers looked at the effect of being separated or divorced, they found both factors doubled the risk of suicide for men and women.

The loss of a child through suicide or other causes almost doubled the risk of suicide in both parents.

However, parenthood appeared to be a protective factor in women.

In an editorial in the same journal, Martin Voracek of the school of psychology at the University of Vienna suggested "assortative mating" - like seeking out like - might explain the figures.

A spokeswoman for the Samaritans told the BBC News website: "Men find it more difficult to seek emotional help than women.

"In addition, if a person knows someone who has taken their own life, they are more predisposed to do the same if they have emotional distress issues."

Suicide 'determined at birth'
23 Sep 04 |  Health
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12 Jul 01 |  Health

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