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People in unhappy relationships are more likely to commit suicide

Posted September 25

Hold onto happiness. Your life could depend on it.

A new study published today in The Journal of Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention found that those who have unhappy relationships with others are more likely to commit suicide than people in a happy relationship or even single people.

The study, which interviewed 382 people in Austria, found that young and middle-aged people, as well as those who are in happy relationships, have a lower risk of thinking about suicide. But those who have unhappy relationships — ones where they want to leave it but can’t — end up committing suicide more often.

It’s even true that single people have less of a risk than those in unstable relationships.

"Data so far clearly show that a person's suicide risk is lower if he/she is in a relationship. However, the recent study suggests that the level of satisfaction with the relationship is also important," Benedikt Till of MedUni Vienna said in a press release.

Among middle-aged people, those who are unhappy but in an ongoing relationship — one where there are unresolved conflicts — are the most at risk for suicide.

In fact, the study said those in unhappy relationships become more suicidal or depressed if there are an extensive amount of unresolved conflicts in the relationship, like problems with a partner’s temperament, communication, bad habits, sexuality and housework.

The study comes as a way to spread awareness of suicide and its causes in anticipation for World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10.

This isn’t the first study to link relationships and suicide. A 2013 study out of the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland found that four out of five people who committed suicide in that area of the world had relationship issues before they died. The study said that 78 percent of those who died by suicide had a breakup or were going through relationship issues before their death.

Other cases included financial issues and employment problems, according to The Irish Times.

Professor Siobhan O’Neill said at the time of the study’s release that this report, as well as any research that comes out about suicide prevention, should be used to help learn about methods that could help people avoid suicide.

“We need to find ways of helping people of all ages, and men in particular, to seek help and support for mental health problems during stressful life events,” she said.

Each year, about 42,000 people die by suicide in the United States, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. It’s the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S., with 117 dying every day. Guns are used in about half of all suicides.

Many efforts have been made to curb the suicide problem. The Suicide Prevention Resource Center said it may be a matter of health care workers having a better understanding of behavioral health disorders so that they can properly assess patients who may be in danger of suicide.

O’Neill said it may require more than that.

“Suicide prevention is not simply a matter for health care providers,” she said. “Politicians and policy makers all need to remain cognisant of the impact of their social policies on mental health and suicide. Suicide prevention is everyone’s responsibility.”

Herb Scribner is a writer for Deseret Digital Media.

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