People whose partners committed suicide were at higher risk for a host of mental and physical ailments than those whose partners died of other causes such as illness or accident, found a new study from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
The study examined 35 years worth of data from thousands of bereaved men and women in Denmark. The findings weren’t a total surprise, though increases in some of the ailments suffered such as herniated disks, weren’t expected.
Further, researchers found those whose spouses committed suicide were less likely to divorce if they remarried.
The study is believe to be the first large-scale examination of the lasting impacts of suicide on spouses, and researchers said it showed the need for special interventions to address the grief.
Suicide is on the rise internationally, leading to more than 800,000 deaths annually. Researchers say the findings are applicable to people in other countries, including the United States.
The findings were published in the March 22 issue of JAMA Psychiatry.
Those who lost a partner to suicide were at increased risk of cancer, cirrhosis of the liver, spinal disk herniation, sleep disorder and chronic respiratory disease. They were also at higher risk for mood disorders, PTSD, anxiety disorders, alcohol use and self harm. The risks were particularly elevated for five years after the death.