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J Affect Disord. 2012 Dec 15;142(1-3):256-63. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2012.04.036. Epub 2012 Jul 25.

Fluctuations of suicidality in the aftermath of a marital separation: 6-month follow-up observations.

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Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention, National Centre of Excellence in Suicide Prevention, WHO Collaborating Centre for Research and Training in Suicide Prevention, Griffith University, QLD 4122, Australia.



There is a lack of understanding of how the changing nature of the separation process impacts on suicidality.


This paper aims to identify factors contributing to fluctuations in suicidality during the process of marital/de facto separation along a 6-month follow-up.


Separated persons who had contacted relationship-counselling services, help-line services, and variety of support and self-help groups were asked to participate in the first assessment. A 'Follow-Up Questionnaire' was sent 6 months later. Participants were required to be 18 years or older and separated from their married/de facto partner within the previous 18 months but not yet divorced.


Overall, in the first assessment, separated females presented lower levels of suicidality than males. During the follow-up suicidality decreased. There were some gender differences in terms of predictors of changes in suicidality. Separated males who showed an increase or stability in suicidality were more affected by stressful experiences such as legal negotiations on obtaining a divorce, feelings of loss and loneliness, loss of social networks and financial difficulties than males who were not suicidal in either assessment. Separated males and females who remained suicidal were more likely to report different mental and physical illnesses.


Relatively low response rates of the follow-up (60%) limited our statistical analyses as some of the groups were too small and did not enable modelling.


Suicidality decreased, which seems to indicate that individuals adjusted to their new life circumstances. However, persons whose suicidality remained or increased reported more frequently stressful life events, physical and mental illnesses.

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