Knowing a Suicide Victim Raises Your Own Risk

1 in 10 people who've lost someone to suicide may be at risk for it themselves
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 27, 2016 5:35 PM CST
Knowing a Suicide Victim Raises Your Own Risk
It doesn't have to be this way.   (Shutterstock)

Dealing with death is difficult enough, but when a loved one takes his or her own life, it becomes even more complex—and it may up the risk of suicide for those left behind, a new study finds. In their findings published in the BMJ Open journal, researchers from University College London studied 3,432 adults ages 18 to 40 who'd been bereaved by a sudden death of a friend or family member. They found that individuals whose deceased loved ones had killed themselves were 65% more likely to attempt suicide themselves (what NDTV refers to as the phenomenon of "suicide contagion") than those affected by a loved one's sudden death by natural causes—or 1 in 10 people in that segment, per a press release. And having someone close to you die by suicide was found to have other repercussions, too: The study discovered that those affected by suicidal deaths were 80% more likely to leave a work or educational situation, per the release.

"Our results highlight the profound impact that suicide might have on friends and family members," study author Dr. Alexandra Pitman says in the release. And the social stigma around suicide may be a significant factor affecting a mourning person's outlook. "Suicide in particular is often perceived as a taboo subject," Pitman notes. "Avoiding the subject can make a bereaved person feel very isolated and stigmatized, and sometimes even blamed for the death." That's not to say, though, that having such a tragedy afflict a family member or close friend dooms a person to a similar sad fate. "These outcomes are by no means inevitable," Pitman says. "If you have been bereaved by suicide, you should know that are not alone and support is available." (A Marine unit has lost 14 members to suicide.)

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